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Lymphangitis

The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system and helps to fight against infection and inflammation. It consists of lymph glands (also called “lymph nodes”) throughout the body which filter the lymph fluid that is carried from nearby areas via the lymph channels.

Lymphangitis is an inflammation of the lymph channels as they carry infected fluids away from a nearby site of infection. It appears as tender red streaks leading away from the area of infection and heading toward the nearest lymph node. This condition is commonly called “blood poisoning”, but that is a misleading term. It has nothing to do with the blood or poisoning. Lymph nodes are found under the jaw and along the side of the neck, in the armpits and in the groin.

Treatment is with antibiotics and an incision to drain any abscess that may be present. When the site of infection is treated, the lymphangitis goes away.

Home Care:

  1. Take all of the antibiotic medicine exactly as prescribed until it is gone. Be careful not to miss any doses, especially during the first few days.

  2. Make a hot compress by running hot water over a face cloth. Apply it to the sore area until the compress cools off. Repeat over a 15 minute period. Apply the hot compress three times a day for the first three days. The heat will increase the blood flow to the area and speed the healing process. As an alternative, you can stand in the shower and direct the warm spray to the area.

  3. You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control pain and fever, unless another medicine was prescribed for this. [NOTE: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.]

Follow Up

with your doctor, or as directed by our staff.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Increasing areas of redness or pain at the site of infection

  • Red streaks continue to grow

  • Pus or fluid draining from the lymph node

  • Fever over 100.5°F (38.0°C) oral or 101.5°F (38.3°C) rectal for more than 2 days of treatment