Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 23.01.2023

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The swelling of a body region is not an efflorescence (see below efflorescences) in the classical sense. A swelling is a doughy, consistent, often blurred elevation of a region that can be pressed in with a finger ("pitting edema"). It usually covers a larger area (> 5 cm), can also occur universally and protrudes above the skin level in a flat, pillow-like, but never hemispherical manner.

The swelling is primarily caused by edema of the (dermis+) subcutis.

Swelling is usually limited in time (24 hours or even several days) if the causative factors are eliminated (e.g. inflammation, cardiac insufficiency, protein deficiency).

If the causes of edema formation (e.g., disturbances of lymph drainage after lymphadenectomy) are not eliminated, non-reversible swelling due to tissue proliferation may develop over the course of months. Such swellings are no longer repressible by finger pressure ("non-pitting edema").

Swelling may be accompanied by clinical symptoms such as fever and pain (e.g., erysipelas), tightness (e.g., angioedema), erythema, scaling, or itching.

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  1. Altmeyer P (2007) Dermatological differential diagnosis. The way to clinical diagnosis. Springer Medicine Publishing House, Heidelberg

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Last updated on: 23.01.2023