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Ann Dermatol Venereol. 1991;118(1):11-6.

[Erysipelas: epidemiological, clinical and therapeutic data (111 cases)].

[Article in French]

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Service de Dermatologie, Hôpital Bichat, Paris.


A retrospective study of 111 patients admitted to the Dermatology department of the Bichat hospital, Paris, between 1981 and 1988 for treatment of erysipelas revealed the following data: 1. Erysipelas was located on the lower limbs in 88.3 p. 100 of the cases and on the face in only 9.8 p. 100. 2. Facilitating and/or aggravating factors were: portal of entry in 75 p. 100 of the cases; impairment of venous and lymphatic circulations (41 p. 100); diabetes mellitus (13.5 p. 100); alcoholism and its socio-economic consequences (29 p. 100); unnecessary prescription of anti-inflammatory agents (11 p. 100). 3. Insufficient consideration was given to the clinical diagnosis: in 7.2 p. 100 of the patients erysipelas was diagnosed either after failure of heparin therapy or because phlebography was normal; some clinical features, notably bullae (30 p. 100) or purpura on the lower limbs (13 p. 100), confused the physicians. Delayed treatment was the main cause of local complications, such as abscess (4 cases) or focal cutaneous necrosis (4 cases). Erysipelas was recurrent in 23.5 p. 100 of the patients. 4. Bacteriological data in this series were insufficient to establish percentages of responsible organisms. However, penicillin G in mean doses of 12 million units per day administered intravenously for 5.5 days, then intramuscularly for 10 days was effective as first-line treatment in 80 p. 100 of the cases. Penicillin therapy may fail in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes or belated treatment with complications. No thromboembolic complication was observed (89 p. 100 of patients with lower limb erysipelas had received anticoagulants). There was only one death due to a severe underlying condition.

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