Red legs is a condition commonly seen in patients with chronic venous disease (CVD), chronic oedema, or lower-limb dermatological conditions. It is often misdiagnosed as cellulitis.1 Studies have shown that around 28%-33% of patients treated for cellulitis are misdiagnosed, which subsequently leads to avoidable and costly hospitalisation and potentially hazardous use of intravenous antibiotics that may compound the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.2,3 Over a period of seven years, there has been an increase of 77% in the number of people admitted to hospital for management of lower-limb cellulitis,4 costing the NHS between £172-£254 million per year.5 The aim of this article is to raise awareness of red legs and highlight the differential diagnoses. As a result, nurses may be able to avoid misdiagnosing cellulitis and improve a patient’s experience, as well as avoid costly hospitalisation and antibiotic therapy.
What are red legs?
Red legs is typically presented with redness that affects both legs, normally in the lower limbs, and is accompanied by warmth and tenderness in the area. There is generally no systemic upset or malaise. The symptoms are commonly accredited to chronic inflammatory changes caused by dermatological and venous conditions such as vascular eczema, lipodermatosclerosis, tinea pedis,
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