Share this page

Health Library

Lymphangitis

Lim-fan-gi-tis

Definition

Lymphangitis is an infection of lymph vessels. Lymph vessels are part of the immune system. They help carry infected fluids away from the site of an infection.

Lymphatic Vessels


Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Lymphangitis is caused by bacteria.

It 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.

Risk Factors

Risk factors include:

  • Injury to the skin
  • Having a bacterial skin infection
Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Redness or red streaks on the skin
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Warmth at the site of the infection
  • Fever or chills
  • Fluids or pus leaking from the affected area
  • Swollen glands
Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask 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:

  • Blood culture
  • Skin biopsy and cultures
Treatment

Lymphangitis indicates a spread of the infection. Treatment is important to keep the infection from spreading into the blood.

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Over-the-counter medications to treat swelling and reduce pain
  • Warm compresses to reduce swelling and pain
Prevention

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:

  • Keep your skin clean.
  • Apply lotion to dry skin.
  • Take steps to avoid injury to the skin:
    • Wear protective gear in sports.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts when hiking.
    • Wear sandals when at the beach, rather than going barefoot.
    • Be careful around animals. Treat pets with respect to avoid bites.
  • Do not swim in natural waters if you have cuts or sores.
  • If a small cut, bite, or other injury occurs:
    • Clean cuts or scrapes with soap and water.
    • Apply antibiotic ointment.
    • Cover with a bandage or dressing.
    • Do not scratch wounds.
    • Call your doctor right away if the area becomes red or swollen.
  • Seek prompt medical care for larger wounds or bites.
  • If your legs tend to swell, elevate them several times a day.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org

American Academy of Family Physicians
http://www.aafp.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Dermatology Association
http://www.dermatology.ca

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

References:

Information about skin infection. Akron Children’s Hospital website. Available at: https://www.akronchildrens.org/cms/conditions/f99b25a263661a51. Accessed January 21, 2014.

Lymphangitis. University of Minnesota Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.uofmmedicalcenter.org/healthlibrary/Article/116272EN. Accessed January 21, 2014.



Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

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.

Baptist Flame

Health Library

Find A Doctor

Services

Locations

Baptist Medical Clinic

Patients & Visitors

Learn

Contact Us

Physician Tools

Careers at Baptist

Employee Links

Online Services

At Baptist Health Systems

At Baptist Medical Center

close ×