Lymphangitis is defined as inflammation of the lymphatic system. The condition develops if bacteria or viruses invade the vessels of the lymphatic system, usually via a wound or cut. Sore, reddened streaks often radiate from the wound toward the nearest lymph glands.
If promptly treated, lymphangitis often settles without any complications. If not treated, complications might arise, and the condition becomes serious.
What is the cause?
Lymphangitis can develop if virus or bacteria enters the lymphatic channels. It might enter via a wound or cut or develop from an existing infection.
The usual infectious cause of lymphangitis is an acute streptococcal infection. It might also stem from a staphylococcal infection.
The condition can also develop if there is already a skin infection and getting worse. This simply means that the bacteria might enter the bloodstream.
Some of the conditions that increases the risk include:
- Chronic use of steroids
What are the signs?
Reddened streaks often manifest on the skin surface from the infected site to the nearest lymph gland. They might be faint or evident and tender to the touch. The streaks might radiate from a cut or wound. In addition, the streaks might blister.
Other accompanying signs include:
- Enlarged lymph glands
- Appetite loss
- Muscle pain
Management of lymphangitis
The treatment must be started right away to prevent the condition from spreading. The doctor might suggest the following:
- Antibiotics if the cause is a bacterial infection – it might be in oral form or intravenously
- Pain medications
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Surgery to drain any abscesses
- Surgical debridement of a node causing obstruction
The healing and pain can be eased by applying a warm compress. The warmth promotes improve blood flow and encourage healing.
If possible, keep the infected site in a raised position. This helps lessen the swelling and slow down the spread of the infection.
For relief to mild pain, an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given.