OVERVIEW Background

OVERVIEW Background

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.