Learn About Lymphangitis

What is the definition of Lymphangitis?

Lymphangitis is an infection of the lymph vessels (channels). It is a complication of some bacterial infections.

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What are the alternative names for Lymphangitis?

Inflamed lymph vessels; Inflammation - lymph vessels; Infected lymph vessels; Infection - lymph vessels

What are the causes of Lymphangitis?

The lymph system is a network of lymph nodes, lymph ducts, lymph vessels, and organs that produce and move a fluid called lymph from tissues to the bloodstream.

Lymphangitis most often results from an acute streptococcal infection of the skin. Less often, it is caused by a staphylococcal infection. The infection causes the lymph vessels to become inflamed.

Lymphangitis may be a sign that a skin infection is getting worse. The bacteria can spread into the blood and cause life-threatening problems.

What are the symptoms of Lymphangitis?

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Enlarged and tender lymph nodes (glands) -- usually in the elbow, armpit, or groin
  • General ill feeling (malaise)
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Red streaks from the infected area to the armpit or groin (may be faint or obvious)
  • Throbbing pain along the affected area
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What are the current treatments for Lymphangitis?

Lymphangitis may spread within hours. Treatment should begin right away.

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics by mouth or IV (through a vein) to treat any infection
  • Pain medicine to control pain
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce inflammation and swelling
  • Warm, moist compresses to reduce inflammation and pain

Surgery may be needed to drain an abscess.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Lymphangitis?

Prompt treatment with antibiotics usually leads to a complete recovery. It may take weeks, or even months, for swelling to disappear. The amount of time it takes to recover depends on the cause.

What are the possible complications of Lymphangitis?

Health problems that may occur include:

  • Abscess (collection of pus)
  • Cellulitis (a skin infection)
  • Sepsis (a general or bloodstream infection)
When should I contact a medical professional for Lymphangitis?

Call your provider or go to the emergency room if you have symptoms of lymphangitis.

Staphylococcal lymphangitis
What are the latest Lymphangitis Clinical Trials?
Empirical Steroids and/or Antifungals in Immunocompromised Patients With Acute Respiratory Failure From Undetermined Etiology: a Multicenter Double-blind Randomized Controlled Trial

Summary: Acute respiratory failure (ARF) is the leading reason of ICU admission in immunocompromised patients. Failure to identify the ARF etiology is associated with increased mechanical ventilation and mortality rates. This was confirmed in the large Efraim 1 study published in 2017, where undetermined ARF etiology affected 609/1611 (38%) patients at day 3, 402 (25%) patients at day 7 and 199 (12.3%) pat...

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What are the Latest Advances for Lymphangitis?
Practical application of steroids in palliative therapy.
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Physical therapies in the decongestive treatment of lymphedema: A randomized, non-inferiority controlled study.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: June 20, 2021
Published By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Pasternack MS, Swartz MN. Lymphadenitis and lymphangitis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 95.