What and why

My body was boiling from the inside. I could not walk, I could not communicate. Something was really wrong. I had not been able to do anything for 12 hours and it got worse and worse. When they operated on me to remove my uterus as a result of the cancer, they left a scar across my body, just above the female triangle area. It felt like a burning wall had suddenly evolved underneath the scar and all the way down to my inner thigh. One of my friends dragged me to the doctor but the doctor clearly didn’t understand what was happening, so she sent me back home.

As the hours went by, I laid in bed, twisting my body, getting more and more difficulty breathing. My heart was pounding

– like it was about to jump out of my chest. Finally my boyfriend had to carry me into the emergency room at the hospital. I could barely get the words out to explain how I was feeling when the doctors asked me about my condition. A red rash started to show in the area of the scar. They took my temperature; it was 42 degrees Celsius. I was rushed into treatment and was bound to a hospital bed for a week. I had been knocked out by the erysipelas infection.

If you have lymphedema, you also have an increased risk of getting the erysipelas infection. And unfortunately, this infection is not a joking matter. This infection is the same as a “cellulitis infection”.

Erysipelas is a bacterial inflammation in the skin. It is often caused by haedmolytic streptococci and staphylococcus aureus. These kinds of bacteria are part of our own skin bacteria, so it is actually our own bacteria that sometimes cause the infection. The infection starts by bacteria getting under your skin and then afterwards spreading under the skin.

Erysipelas shows as a red and very distinctive rash on for example the legs. The skin will be get warm in area of the rash. The skin and the limb with the rash will swell. You will often get headache, fever, nausea and through up.

If the infection hits you badly, it can be necessary to admit you to a hospital to give intravenous treatment. If you are used to the infection, you can (in some cases) handle it from home.

Erysipelas in itself is not contagious.

One of the worst things about the infection is the fact that it ruins some of your lymph vessels every time you get it. In my case, that has resulted in me not having any intact lymph vessels left in my legs (however, my case is a unusual and a bit extreme).

If you have had the infection once, there is a greater risk of getting it again. That is why it is important to be thorough with your skincare. Besides this, it is a good idea always to bring the necessary medication with you every time you travel away from home, so you can medicate yourself in the case of an outbreak of the infection.