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Int J Dermatol. 2010 Sep;49(9):1012-7.

Analysis of epidemiology, clinical features and management of erysipelas.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Heraklion, Greece.



Erysipelas is a superficial form of cellulitis affecting the upper dermis and superficial lymphatics. The widespread use of antibiotics may affect clinical findings and response to therapy of infectious disorders. The purpose of the study was to investigate the epidemiological, clinical, and laboratory features of erysipelas and to compare the results of treatment with penicillin vs. other antibiotic regimens.


All charts of erysipelas patients treated at the University Hospital of Heraklion, Crete, Greece from 1994 to 2002 were retrospectively studied.


Median age of the 99 patients was 54.5 years; 59% were females. The most frequent site involved was the lower extremity (76%), followed by the face (17%) and upper extremity (6%). In 61 patients (62%), a possible entry portal was identified. The most common manifestation of erysipelas was local symptoms and signs (pain, erythema, and swelling) in all patients, together with elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (60%). Fever was present in 25% of patients. The most commonly used antibiotic was intravenous penicillin G (64%). In the penicillin group, mean duration of fever after treatment initiation was shorter than in the nonpenicillin group (1.7 vs. 4.5 days, P = 0.002). Both treatment failures and recurrences were the same between the two groups.


The diagnosis of erysipelas can be based on careful examination for local signs and symptoms. The role of ESR in primary diagnosis needs further investigation. Penicillin seems to preserve its fundamental role in the treatment of disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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