Inflammation of the lymphatic vessels & lymph nodes

Lymphangitis - the "false blood poisoning"

An insect bite or a small wound is often ignored, but they can trigger inflammation of the lymphatic vessels (lymphangitis). Bacteria can penetrate the lymphatic system at this point and thus trigger the "wrong blood poisoning", which can also lead to serious complications. One of the most common consequences is inflammation of the lymph nodes (lymphadenitis).

  • Small wounds or insect bites usually trigger lymphangitis.
  • In the further course, inflammation of the lymph nodes threatens.
  • A red visible stripe under the skin is one of the most noticeable symptoms, but there can also be rather unremarkable symptoms such as general malaise or itching.
  • Lymphangitis can also result in life-threatening blood poisoning if the causative agents enter the bloodstream.

Definition of lymphangitis and lymphadenitis

Lymphangitis is one of the diseases of the lymphatic vessels and describes a bacterial inflammation along the lymphatic vessels. If lymph nodes become infected during the course of lymphangitis or due to other causes, this is referred to as lymphadenitis, an inflammation of the lymph node. The inflammation is usually harmless, but serious complications can also occur if therapeutic measures are not taken in good time.

Why "false blood poisoning"

Although the inflammation affects the lymphatic vessels, lymphangitis is still colloquially referred to as blood poisoning. The wandering red streak, which moves towards the center of the body, does not affect the blood vessels but the lymphatic system.

Skin injuries as the cause

Through skin injuries, such as

  • a cut,
  • Grazes,
  • Animal bites and
  • Insect bites

pathogens can enter the lymphatic system, which can then trigger lymphangitis.

Bacteria are the most common triggers

In most cases, streptococci or staphylococci infect the lymphatic vessels in a lymphangantis. But other bacteria or viruses can also be the trigger. They reach the lymphatic drainage area of ​​the skin wound and are transported in the lymphatic channels with the direction of flow of the lymphatic fluid. This is how they get to the lymph nodes. In addition to offering skin injuries

  • Fungal diseases (mycoses) between the toes,
  • the limited wound healing in diabetes mellitus,
  • chronic venous insufficiency,
  • as well as post-thrombotic syndrome

good conditions for the development of lymphangitis.

It is generally assumed that an infection of the lymphatic system is related to a weakened immune system.

Symptoms and complications

The following symptoms can occur with "wrong blood poisoning":

  • A warm, red streak under the skin,
  • Lymph node swelling,
  • Pus blisters (abscesses),
  • Lymphedema,
  • Reddening of the skin,
  • Itching,
  • A headache,
  • general malaise
  • and fever, even with chills.

A warm, pressure-sensitive red streak that extends from the area around the injury (often the extremities) to the trunk is one of the first symptoms. In this context, the legend of "blood poisoning", which shows its progress through the red stripe, and still leads to death upon reaching the heart.

In fact, complications from lymphatic inflammation can result in “real” blood poisoning (sepsis) if the bacteria enter the bloodstream and thus lead to a life-threatening general infection with high fever and chills. Frequently recurring lymphangitis can also lead to the formation of lymphedema due to the destruction of the lymphatic vessels.

If the lymph nodes are affected, they also react with the signs of inflammation, tenderness and swelling, the skin above is overheated and reddened. The complication is the formation of a purulent abscess.

Natural medicine possibilities and limits

A doctor should definitely be consulted if lymphatic inflammation or lymph node inflammation is suspected. First of all, a malignant disease (malignant lymphomas e.g. Hodgkin's disease, infectious diseases, e.g. tuberculosis) must be excluded and the use of antibiotics should always be considered if there is bacterial involvement. Since an inflamed lymph node tends to suppurate, even surgical intervention is often unavoidable (opening or removal of the lymph node).

When inflammation begins, especially from viral pathogens, numerous naturopathic procedures are suitable for accompanying treatment of lymphangitis and lymphadenitis, such as:

  • enzyme therapy,
  • Herbal wraps and
  • Healing earth envelopes.

Enzymes, for example, have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-edematous effects when used in the right dose. Neural therapy users inject directly along the inflamed lymphatic cord and additionally try to use the injections to alleviate chronic, spreading inflammation foci (nasal sinuses, etc.). In acute infections, cold compresses with healing earth or herbal supplements can provide relief and reduce inflammation.

Homeopaths are looking for the right remedies for acute complaints, general condition and mood. In particular, strengthening the immune system with echinacea is recommended in homeopathy against inflammation of the lymphatic vessels.

Important: Self-treatment without medical (medical) observation is advisable in any case due to the possible malignant underlying diseases and serious complications.

Further articles

  • The human lymphatic system - structure and functioning; The lymphatic system runs through almost our entire body, but what is it for and how does it work?
  • Lymphedema - causes and treatment; Another relatively common disease of the lymphatic system.
  • Symptom lymph node swelling; What can be the causes?

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Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • Merck & Co., Inc .: Lymphadenitis (accessed: July 24, 2019), msdmanuals.com
  • Society for Pediatric Oncology and Hematology (GPOH): S1 guideline for lymph node enlargement, status: May 2012, detailed guideline view
  • Amboss GmbH: Lymph node swelling (lymphadenopathy) (access: July 24, 2019), amboss.com
  • Austria's public health portal: Lymphangitis (accessed: 24.07.2019), gesundheit.gv.at
  • Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer: Lymphangitis acuta (accessed: July 24, 2019), enzyklopaedie-dermatologie.de
  • The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System: Lymphadenitis (accessed: July 24, 2019), hopkinsmedicine.org
  • Mayo Clinic: Swollen lymph nodes (accessed: July 24, 2019), mayoclinic.org
  • UpToDate, Inc .: Lymphangitis (accessed: July 24, 2019), uptodate.com

ICD codes for this disease: L03, L04, I88, I89ICD codes are internationally valid encryption codes for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: The Lymphatic System, All you need to know. (January 2022).