Erysipelas is bacterial skin infection that involves upper dermis characteristically extending
into superficial cutaneous lymphatics. This is tender, indurated plaque, intensely
erythematous with sharply demarcated border. The well-defined margin of it can assist in
differentiating it from various other skin infections such as cellulitis. Please see image given
below (See Clinical Presentation.)
Well-demarcated, erythematous plaque of erysipelasWell-demarcated, erythematous plaque
of erysipelas. Courtesy of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Erysipelas can be traced back to Middle Ages where this was referred to St. Anthony’s fire.
This is named after Christian saint to whom patients afflicted with this disease would
approach for healing. At somewhere around 1095, Roman Catholic congregation had been
formed on St. Anthony’s Order in France for caring for people who have ailments. During
that time, many diseases had been grouped likely under this eponym such as herpes zoster
(shingles) and ergotism.
Erysipelas historically occurred on face but today there are more cases involving legs. Group
A streptococcal bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes leads to maximum facial infections
though it can lead to Erysipelas on legs. There is increase in lower extremity infections
percentage that is being caused by some non-group A streptococci.