When you think of medical emergencies, dermatology may not be the first medical discipline that comes to mind. However, dermatological emergencies do happen, and when they do, you need the attention of a dermatologist to provide you with immediate treatment. While many dermatological emergencies result in pain and discomfort, many can be life-threatening if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to know your options when it comes to emergency dermatology in La Jolla, CA.

Because the skin is the largest organ in the human body, emergency medical conditions that are dermatological in nature are usually serious. However, the first step is diagnosis, which can most accurately be done by a skilled dermatologist. Keep reading to learn more about a few of the most common dermatological emergencies and how they are treated.

Cellulitis and Erysipelas

Cellulitis and erysipelas are two dermatological conditions that can evolve into life-threatening emergencies if left untreated. Both conditions are caused by bacterial infections of the layers of the skin. In the case of erysipelas, the superficial dermis is affected, and with cellulitis, the deep dermis tissue becomes infected. The bacteria most often associated with these two conditions are Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus, two common bacteria that are found on the human body. The bacteria enter the skin through a cut or abrasion, and infection develops from there. Both conditions are usually located on the lower extremities, but the condition can spread to other parts of the body. While minor cases of either condition can be treated with oral antibiotics, severe cases may require stronger IV antibiotics.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

This terrifying emergency condition is related to cellulitis and erysipelas as it can result from those conditions if they remain untreated. There are other causes as well, however. The condition is a rapidly spreading infection of skin and underlying tissue in which the tissue deteriorates rapidly as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococci Group A bacteria take hold. It may begin as a small lesion with associated pain, but within hours it can evolve into a dramatic wound with deep gangrene, that includes secondary symptoms such as septic shock, fever, tachycardia, and hypotension. The condition can become fatal in a matter of hours, which makes immediate treatment critical. Treatment includes powerful IV antibiotics as well as debridement to stop the progression of the disease.

Skin Exam

Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, or TEN, can be the result of a reaction to a drug that the patient has recently consumed. It’s characterized by the death of large patches of the patient’s epidermis, or outer layer of skin. This results in peeling and exposure which can be life-threatening to the patient because of an inability to regulate hydration, exposure to airborne pathogens and infections, and difficulty in regulating internal temperature. Treatment involves immediate IV administration of immunoglobulin and support of functions that are compromised by the loss of the epidermis.

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, or SJS, is very similar to TEN and is almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye. Similar symptoms are presented, and both are thought to be related to drug ingestion. SJS features necrotic lesions that are bordered by areas of erythema. Treatment includes admission to a hospital where IV immunoglobulin is administered, and the patient is treated for potential infection and fluid regulation issues. In some cases, steroids are administered as well.

Dermatological emergencies may not be as frequent as emergencies in other disciplines, but when they occur, they can be life-threatening in nature. Therefore, immediate treatment from a skilled dermatologist is necessary to limit the condition’s impact and potentially preserve the patient’s life. To learn more about dermatological emergencies, visit Academic & Aesthetic Dermatology Consultants at https://www.dermmd.com/la-jolla-ca/.