This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
This an inflammation of the skin. It generally affects the head and face. It is attended by quite a high fever, which usually begins with a chill. The patient is usually weak and prostrated. The skin is swollen, red, and glossy. There is a burning sensation in the affected parts, and it is tender to the touch. The disease extends quite rapidly, in some cases involving the whole scalp and head. Sometimes the disease extends into the tissues beneath the skin. Blisters and abscesses sometimes form, in severe cases. Sometimes the fever rises so high as to occasion delirium. When the scalp is severely affected, the hair generally falls out, but soon grows again after recovery. The disease is somewhat contagious; one attack seems to render a person more liable to another.
Erysipelas is very likely to occur in wounds and after surgical operations, especially in hospitals. In these cases the results are often very serious. The disease is more common in warm weather than in cold. It generally lasts about a week, terminating in the peeling off of the epidermis. The form of the disease, known as "wandering erysipelas" generally attacks the extremities first, rapidly extending toward the trunk. In this form of the affection, the fever is generally moderate, but it is likely to continue for several months.
This is quite a serious affection; and unless the attach is a very slight one indeed, a physician should be consulted at once. When, the skin is very tense, hot, and painful, cold, and even ice compresses, should be applied. There is no danger, as many people suppose, of causing the disease to "strike in." Cases in which the disease extends to the membranes of the brain are not due to the eruption being repelled from the surface. The disappearance of the eruption is the result of the occurrence of internal inflammation. The old plan of treatment by encircling the diseased part with a dark line by burning with lunar caustic, is of about equal efficacy with the so-called "sympathetic remedies" often employed for this affection. Nothing equals the application of cold for reducing the local inflammation. It should be carefully watched, however, and as soon as the color of the affected part becomes bluish purple, or a bright scarlet, the cold should be exchanged for hot fomentations in order to excite activity of the blood-vessels and overcome the sluggishness of the circulation of the affected part. The cranberry poultice, and various other similar remedies, possess no special value in this disease. The general fever by which it is always accompanied, and which sometimes runs very high, should be treated by means of cool compresses, cool sponging, wet-sheet packs, and cool enemas. The diet of the patient should be very light, and unstimulating in character.