Erysipelas is a disease characterized by diffuse inflammation of the skin (redness, pain, heat and tingling); or with the involvement of the subcutaneous tissue, producing diffuse collections of pus or cellulitis. The latter is much more likely to occur when the disease starts in a wound or ulcer. Occasionally the affected parts become gangrenous. The infecting organism is Streptococcus pyogenes. It is accompanied by fever, is highly infectious, and untreated can cause death.
In the Middle Ages, this disease was confused with ergot poisoning.
Erysipelas is slightly commoner in women than in men, and is commonest between the ages of 50 and 60.