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Definition of Lymphangitis

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Lymphangitis: The red streaking and gland (lymph node) swelling in the area of an injury especially on the extremities. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection with Streptococcus. The bacteria enter the body through a cut, scrape, bite or wound of some sort. The bacteria can get into the lymphatic system, which is part of our immune system. The bacterial infection spreads rapidly in the lymph channels (causing the red streaking) and lymph nodes (causing hard swollen "knots" under the skin). If left untreated, the bacteria can spread in the skin around the area, causing cellulitis, and also rapidly spread to the bloodstream, causing sepsis. In the days before antibiotics people referred to lymphangitis as "blood poisoning" due to the infection rapidly causing severe illness and sometimes death.

SLIDESHOW

8 First Aid Kit Essentials for Scrapes, Cuts, Bug Bites, and More in Pictures See Slideshow
Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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