Lymphangitis is an infection of the lymph vessels. Lymph vessels are part of the immune system. They, along with lymph nodes and ducts, help carry infected fluids away from the site of an infection.
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Lymphangitis is caused by bacteria.
It usually starts with a bacterial skin infection. When the lymph vessels start to carry fluids away from the infection, the bacteria can move into the lymph vessels and begin to multiply. The growth causes the infection.
Factors that may increase the chances of lymphangitis include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Diagnosis is often made on appearance alone.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested to determine the exact type of bacteria causing the infection. This can be done with:
Lymphangitis indicates a spread of the infection. Treatment is important to keep the infection from spreading into the blood.
Your doctor may advise medications such as:
Warm compresses may also be advised to reduce swelling and pain.
Lymphangitis is usually caused by spread from a skin infection. If you have a skin infection, follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
To reduce your risk of getting a skin infection:
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Dermatology Association
Lymphangitis. University of Maryland Medical Center website. Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/lymphangitis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Lymphangitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/bacterial-skin-infections/lymphangitis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 1/29/2021