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Erysipelas is an acute inflammation of the skin that originates from an infectious disease caused by bacteria (streptococcus and sometimes staphylococcus). Erysipelas can affect:
  • the face;
  • or, usually, a leg.

It is a very painful condition that requires urgent care so that the infection does not further attack the body. Affecting mostly adults over 40 years of age, the disease is rarely seen in children. Some factors favor the occurrence of this infection such as a local skin tear (sore or ulcer), a weakened immune system, a lack of venous leg circulation or diabetes.


The symptoms of erysipelas of the face are:
  • severe pain;
  • a swollen, red and hot face;
  • the appearance of "beading" along the edges of the affected area.

The most common form is erysipelas of the leg, which manifests through:
  • a high body temperature (39° C/40° C);
  • red erythematous "plates";
  • edema or swelling of the leg;
  • severe pain in the leg where the skin becomes red and shiny;
  • swollen nearby glands, including on the groin.


The symptoms and physical symptoms of erysipelas (also called non-acute necrotizing dermo panniculitis) allow for an easy diagnosis. However, the proper cause should always be sought out. The latter can be a result of:
  • an immune deficiency;
  • diabetes.

Additional tests generally indicate an increase in the number of white blood cells (leukocytes) as well as an increase of CRP, a specific protein of inflammation. In rare cases, highlighting the presence of a streptococcus by bacteriological sampling and serology is also possible.


Erysipelas requires immediate treatment. This treatment consists of analgesics and antibiotics of the streptococcal penicillin family. The patient should stay in bed until the inflammation disappears. Daily medical attention is necessary if the patient is not hospitalized. But hospitalization may in fact be considered:
  • in case of complications;
  • if no improvement is seen after 72 hours of treatment.


Prevention of recurrent erysipelas is based on:
  • lymphatic drainage measures that will limit circulatory disorders, such as wearing belts and stockings;
  • taking good care of areas likely to allow the entrance of pathogens into the body, referred to as skin "entrance doors" (ulcers, wounds, fungal infections ...).

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