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SKIN DISEASES: cellulitis and erysipelas (Saint Antony's fire)

Dermatlas: Cellulitis, erysipelas

Dermatlas: Cellulitis, erysipelas

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Location: Cellulitis frequently occurs on exposed ares of the body such as the arms and face, most often affects the legs. Predisposing conditions for cellulitis include insect bite, animal bite, pruritic skin rash, recent surgery, athlete's foot, swollen skin, dry skin, eczema, and burns. Patients with diabetes or impairment of the immune system are particularly susceptibile to developing cellulitis.

Symptoms: cellulitis begins as a small area of tenderness, swelling, and redness on the skin. As this red area begins to spread, the person may develop a fever, headache, sometimes with chills and sweats, bruising and blisters on the affected area. Lymph nodes near the area of infected skin may become swollen. Cellulitis refers to an infection involving not only the epidermis but also deeper layers of the skin: the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. Group A streptococcus and staphylococcus are the most common of cellulitis-causing bacteria, they are part of the normal flora of the skin but cause no actual infection until the skin is broken. Nevertheless other bacteria may cause cellulitis as well. The symptoms of cellulitis may resemble other dermatologic conditions.

Erysipelas - also called Saint Anthony's fire - is a form of rather superficial cellulitis caused by a species of hemolytic streptococcus; it is characterized by spreading hot, bright red circumscribed area on the skin with a sharp raised border accompanied by high fever and a feeling of general illness. Erysipelas in most cases affects the skin of the face, that is why when it strikes other parts of the body, it may often be misdiagnosed. Bacteremia (blood poisoning) and pneumonia are the most common complications. Erysipelas is a highly contagious disease that was formerly dangerous to life; however, it can now be quickly controlled by antibiotic therapy.

Treatments: Immediate treatment helping prevent the spread of cellulitis may include: penicillin, oral antibiotics, elevating the legs, cool, wet dressings on the infection site. Each person may experience symptoms differently, that's why patient should consult a physician for diagnosis. Individual treatment will depend on such factors as: patient's age, overall health, medical history, extent of the condition, tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, expectations for the course of the condition, patient's opinion or preference.

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