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Lower limb lymphangitis: from symptoms to treatment

Lower limb lymphangitis: from symptoms to treatment


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There lymphangitis in the lower limbs it is an infection of the lymphatic vessels that carry lymphatic fluid throughout the body. Lymphangitis usually requires antibiotic treatment, and is usually caused by skin infections, which are the most common cause of lymphangitis.

More in detail, it is useful to remember already from this synthesis phase that the lymphatic fluid of the body and the lymphatic system help our body to fight infections. Usually, lymphatic fluid travels to an infection site to deliver lymphocytes to help fight the infection. However, at times, infected lymphatic fluid in one area of ​​the body travels to the lymphatic vessels, causing the lymphangitis that is our focus.

Let's try to find out more about the causes, symptoms and, above all, how they are treated.

Causes of lymphangitis

There lymphangitis it is a type of secondary infection, which occurred due to another infection. In fact, as we have already partially mentioned in the introductory phase, when the infection moves from the original site to the lymphatic vessels, the vessels become inflamed and infected, resulting in the condition we are talking about today.

Bacterial infections are the most common cause of lymphangitis, although it is quite possible that lymphangitis is due to a viral or fungal infection. Any injury that allows viruses, bacteria or fungi to enter the body can also cause an infection that leads to lymphangitis. Therefore, it is possible that some of the culprits of such a condition include:

  • puncture wounds, such as those caused by stepping on a nail or other sharp object,
  • untreated or severe skin infections, such as cellulitis,
  • insect bites and insect stings,
  • a wound that requires stitches,
  • infected surgical wounds,
  • sporotrichosis, a fungal skin infection common among gardeners.

Symptoms of lymphangitis

As regards the symptoms of lymphangitis, we highlight how people affected by this scenario may notice red streaks extending from the site of the lesion to areas where there are many lymphatic glands, such as the armpits or groin, or - as in the case of our focus today - towards the lower limbs. Even "unexplained" red streaks on any area of ​​the body can be a sign of lymphangitis, especially in a person who has an existing skin infection.

Other symptoms of lymphangitis can include:

  • a recent wound that is not healing,
  • feeling sick or weak,
  • temperature,
  • chills,
  • headache,
  • low energy and loss of appetite,
  • swelling near a lesion or in the groin or armpits.

Also keep in mind that lymphangitis should never be underestimated, because if left untreated it can spread to the blood. This infection, called sepsis, can cause very high fever, flu-like symptoms, and even organ failure. In severe cases it can also lead to death.

As regards i risk factors, people with weak immune systems may certainly be more vulnerable to lymphangitis. Having certain conditions, such as diabetes, HIV or cancer, or taking drugs that suppress the immune system, including chemotherapy drugs, can increase the risk of this condition.

Read also: Tick ​​bite, what to do?

Diagnosis of lymphangitis

Let us now deal with the diagnosis of lymphangitis, recalling how the doctor who suspects this condition could arrive at a preliminary diagnosis - to be confirmed - already on the basis of a person's symptoms alone. If a person has swollen lymph nodes, red streaks extending from a lesion, or other signs of infection, the doctor may immediately recommend treatment with antibiotics.

In addition, the doctor will generally prefer to conduct a thorough examination to find the source of the original infection, since this can help in choosing the right treatment. Often, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics pending the results of a culture. A culture of the lesion can reveal whether the infection is bacterial, viral or fungal and which drug will be most effective.

With the results of a culture, the doctor can modify the treatment or add other medications to the person's treatment plan.

In some cases, a doctor might also perform a biopsy of the swollen lymph nodes to rule out other conditions. Blood tests can also be useful, especially if the cause of the infection is not clear.

Treatment of lymphangitis

Generally a first home treatment can be carried out, in order to relieve the pain, by applying a hot compress on the area affected by the infection. However, this is only a first intervention that does not cure the underlying cause: considering that lymphangitis can spread rapidly, doctors usually recommend aggressive treatment of the underlying infection.

In most cases, a person will need to antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection. Intravenous (IV) antibiotics can deliver the drug faster, and therefore a person may need to receive intravenous antibiotics in a hospital or doctor's office. If the infection is fungal or viral, the doctor will prescribe antifungal or antiviral drugs instead.

If the first course of drugs does not overcome the infection, a person may need another course of drugs. Rarely, an individual may require surgery to remove infected tissue.

Lymphangitis can be very painful. In addition to the already mentioned possibility of applying hot compresses to the wound and areas with red streaks, anti-inflammatory drugs for pain control, such as ibuprofen, can be used, and still take painkillers from a doctor with a prescription.

In order to know more, we invite all those interested to talk to their family doctor.


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