Erysipeloid is a rare and acute infection of the skin caused by bacteria.
The bacteria that cause erysipeloid are called Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae. This type of bacteria may be found in fish, birds, mammals, and shellfish. Erysipeloid usually affects people who work with these animals (such as farmers, butchers, cooks, grocers, fishermen, or veterinarians). Infection results when the bacteria enters the skin through small breaks.
Symptoms may develop in 2 to 7 days after bacteria enter the skin. Usually, the fingers and hands are affected. But any exposed area of the body can get infected if there is a break in the skin. Symptoms may include:
- Bright red skin in the infected area
- Swelling of the area
- Throbbing pain with itching or burning sensation
- Fluid-filled blisters
- Low fever if the infection spreads
- Swollen lymph nodes (sometimes)
The infection may spread to other fingers. It usually doesn't spread past the wrist.
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will examine you. The provider can often make the diagnosis by looking at the infected skin and by asking how your symptoms started.
Tests that may be done to confirm the diagnosis include:
Antibiotics, especially penicillin, are very effective to treat this condition.
Erysipeloid may get better on its own. It rarely spreads. If it does spread, the lining of the heart can become infected. This condition is called endocarditis.
Using gloves while handling or preparing fish or meat can prevent the infection.
Erysipelothricosis - erysipeloid; Skin infection - erysipeloid; Cellulitis - erysipeloid; Erysipeloid of Rosenbach; Diamond skin disease; Erysipelas
Dinulos JGH. Bacterial infections. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 9.
Lawrence HS, Nopper AJ. Superficial bacterial skin infections and cellulitis. In: Long SS, Prober CG, Fischer M, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 68.
Sommer LL, Reboli AC, Heymann WR. Bacterial diseases. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 74.
Review Date 11/10/2020
Updated by: Ramin Fathi, MD, FAAD, Director, Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, Phoenix, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.