Actinomycosis is a long-term infection that is responsible for developing sores and abscesses in soft tissues of the body. This type of infection is usually found in the:

  • Mouth
  • Nose
  • Throat
  • Lungs
  • Stomach
  • Intestines

Actinomycosis rarely shows in any part of the body. But the infection can damage your tissues if not treated. Actinomycosis is not contagious. It can be found in the tropical areas of the world.


Actinomycosis is a rare infection, especially in the United States, even though this kind of infection spreads slowly. The bacteria in this family are as follows:

  • Actinomyces israelii
  • Actinomyces naeslundii
  • Actinomyces viscosus
  • Actinomyces odontolyticus

These types of bacteria normally live in your body cavities like your nose and throat but they don’t cause infection unless they can break through the protective lining of your body cavities.



Actinomycosis can be the reason for muscle spasms in the jaw, commonly known as “locked jaw.” If this will happen, the mouth cannot open in its normal way.

The following are common symptoms of actinomycosis:

  • Fever
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Lumps developing on neck and face
  • Draining sores on the skin
  • Excess sinus drainage
  • Cough
  • Pain in chest


Other common types of leg ulcer include:

  • Arterial leg ulcers
  • Diabetic leg ulcers
  • Malignant leg ulcers
  • Traumatic leg ulcers
  • Vasculitic leg ulcers

Ulcers in the foot are usually caused by diabetes.



Itching, pain, and swelling in the affected leg are characteristic symptoms of a venous leg ulcer.

Discoloration, hardening of the skin around the ulcer, and presence of a foul-smelling discharge may also be present when you have a venous leg ulcer.

If you have a venous leg ulcer, you may exhibit the following conditions:

  • discoloration and darkening of the skin around the ulcer
  • swollen ankles
  • red, flaky, scaly and itchy skin on your legs
  • swollen and enlarged veins on your legs
  • hardened skin around the ulcer, which may make your leg feel hard
  • a heavy feeling in your legs
  • an unpleasant and foul-smelling discharge from the ulcer
  • aching or swelling in your legs


Signs of an infection

Opportunistic pathogens could cause secondary bacterial infections due to the ulcer. 

Symptoms of an infected leg ulcer may include:

  • a green or unpleasant discharge coming from the ulcer
  • fever
  • redness and swelling of the skin around the ulcer
  • worsening pain
  • an unpleasant smell coming from the ulcer


Actinomycosis is diagnosed through an analysis of a fluid or tissue sample from the infected area. Your doctor will use a microscope to study the sample for Actinomyces bacteria. If the bacteria has yellowish colored granules, it is proven to be  Actinomyces.


Antibiotics are considered as the main treatment for actinomycosis. High doses of penicillin are required to cure the infection. If you were allergic to penicillin, your doctor can prescribe you other antibiotics, like:

  • Tetracycline
  • Clindamycin
  • Erythromycin

It will take up a year for the antibiotics to fully cure an infection.

Skin abscesses from the infection need to be drained or removed. If you developed actinomycosis due to the use of an IUD, the said device should be removed to avoid the development of an infection.

Let your doctor know if you have symptoms of actinomycosis. Early treatment reduces your chance of developing long-term complications that will need surgery.

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