In Medical Dermatology

Have you ever had an unexpected or unexplained rash on your skin? While many rashes and red spots on skin disappear as soon as they appear, there are some occasions where these problem areas never go away, and in some cases, they can worsen. In many cases, these issues are skin infections.

The largest organ in the human body is the skin. It protects your delicate insides from the bacteria and viruses of the outside world. Without our skin, we would not last long (unless you live in a controlled and sanitized bubble). While our exterior is strong, that does not mean it can withstand everything that comes at it.

It is not uncommon for people of all ages to experience some sort of skin infection. In fact, you will have a skin infection at least once in your life. There are loads of skin infections out there with many different causes. To help you determine them from each other, we created this guide about all skin infections.

What is a skin infection?

Skin infections range from mild, severe and life-threatening. Dermatologists determined that there are four different types of skin infections: bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic.

These are a few of the most common bacterial skin infections:

  • Cellulitis
  • Impetigo
  • Boils
  • Leprosy

Different viral skin infections include:

  • Shingles
  • Chickenpox
  • Warts
  • Measles
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease

Some common fungal infections include:

  • Yeast infection
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Ringworm
  • Nail fungus
  • Oral thrush
  • Diaper rash

 Parasitic skin infections that are common include:

  • Lice
  • Bedbugs
  • Scabies
  • Cutaneous larva migrans

Each one of these skin infection types has a range of symptoms, causes and treatments. If you notice any problems with your skin, contact your doctor right away. 

What are some symptoms of skin infections?

Depending on if you have a mild or a severe case, common symptoms include but are not limited to redness, swelling, itching, pain and tenderness. In more severe cases, you may see pus, blisters, skin sloughing, foul odors or dark, discolored skin. Do not pop or pick at any blisters. Popping these areas can cause spreading. When pus touches other parts of your skin, it can seep into other cuts or clog up your pores.

Instead, if you notice any of the symptoms above, whether they are mild or severe, leave the area alone and visit your doctor or dermatologist right away. Untreated skin infections can cause high fevers, illness, and in severe cases, death.

 What causes skin infections?

There is a wide range of causes for skin infections, and each type has specific causes as well.

Bacterial skin infections occur when bacteria enters your skin, usually through a cut or scratch. However, not every cut or scratch will get infected. For most people, they will not get an infection whenever they have a skin opening. People with weakened immune systems have higher risks of bacterial skin infections. If you do not have an immune disorder or disease, you still need to take care of the open area, especially if you are in an unsanitized or unclean area.

You can get a viral skin infection when a virus enters your body. These viruses usually come from three categories: the herpes virus, poxvirus and human papillomavirus. You can come across these with just human contact.

A fungal infection can occur due to body chemistry and your lifestyle. Fungi grow and thrive in warm, moist environments. People who excessively sweat, wear damp or wet clothing, or have skin folds are more prone to fungal skin infections.

Parasitic skin infections occur when tiny parasites burrow their way into your skin and lay eggs. These infections spread through human contact and unclean environments.

What is the treatment for skin infections?

The type of treatment for a skin infection depends on the type of infection. Plus, its severity will determine the proper action to take. Many viral and parasitic infections go away on their own. You can also use over-the-counter treatments.

Typically, bacterial skin infections need topical or oral antibiotics your doctor or dermatologist will prescribe. However, in severe cases, you may need to visit the hospital.

You can treat fungal skin infections with many over-the-counter antifungal sprays and creams. If the problem persists, your doctor can prescribe a stronger antibiotic. To help decrease some symptoms like redness or itchiness, try out cold compresses and antihistamines.

When should you see a doctor?

When in doubt, always see a doctor or dermatologist if you notice changes to your skin, especially if they are painful, itchy and blistered. Many people are more prone to skin infections like diabetics, the elderly, people with poor circulation, patients with immune disorders or diseases like HIV/AIDS, obese people, and paralyzed individuals. If you are one of these people listed, check your body daily and consult your dermatologist if you have any skin issues or concerns.

Skin infections are very common, and luckily, there are many different ways to cure them. If you notice any skin issues, please visit your doctor or dermatologist right away. For more information about skin infections or any other skin issues, please contact us.

Hormonal Acne: What it is and Why it HappensWhat to Expect During and After Mohs Surgery