Lymphangitis is an infection of the lymph vessels. Lymph vessels are part of the immune system. They help carry infected fluids away from the site of an infection.
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Lymphangitis is caused by bacteria.
It usually starts with a bacterial skin infection. When the lymph vessels start to carry fluids away from the infection, the bacteria can move into the lymph vessels and begin to grow. The growth causes the infection.
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is often made on appearance alone.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested to determine the exact type of bacteria causing the infection. This can be done with:
Lymphangitis indicates a spread of the infection. Treatment is important to keep the infection from spreading into the blood.
Your doctor may advise medications, such as:
Warm compresses may also be advised to reduce swelling and pain.
Lymphangitis is usually caused by spread from a skin infection. If you have a skin infection, follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
To reduce your risk of getting a skin infection:
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Dermatology Association
Lymphangitis. University of Maryland Medical Center website. Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/lymphangitis. Update May 19, 2013. Accessed February 18, 2016.
Lymphangitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/bacterial-skin-infections/lymphangitis. Updated May 2013. Accessed February 10, 2017.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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