The Different Types of Bacterial Skin Infections

Bacterial skin infections are quite common. They can range a lot when it comes to severity – from mild, disturbing to life-threatening. A lot of bacterial infections occur as a result of the Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or Streptococcus pyogenes (this is the same bacteria that causes strep throat). Bacterial infection come in various forms, depending on where they occur, what causes it and how old is the individual. They are generally treated by internists and family physicians. There are, of course, some more complex infections that require a thorough examination by a dermatologist or a rheumatologist. These severe cases include the spreading of the infection to the bloodstream which can cause sepsis – a dangerous condition that can cause death.

The Most Common Bacterial Skin Infections


Cellulitis is a condition that takes place in the two deepest layers of the skin. Those layers are the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue. It makes the skin appear swollen and pretty tender to touch. This condition normally appears in areas where the skin has been broken. That includes things such as near ulcers, bruises, burns, or surgical wounds that are in the process of healing. Staphylococcus and Streptococcus are the most common culprits for causing cellulitis. This infection can become life-threatening only if it spreads to one’s lymph nodes and bloodstream.


Also known as St. Anthony’s Fire due to the strong burning sensation it causes, this infection attacks the top two layers of one’s skin. The symptoms are redness and swelling – you cannot miss noticing the infected skin tissue. Sometimes, minor conditions such as athlete’s foot or eczema can be the base for the developing of erysipelas. Other times, it can happen due to the spreading of bacteria to the nasal passages which then turns into a nose or throat infection.

Bacterial Folliculitis

This is a common infection that affects the hair follicles. It is often caused by a fungus, ingrown hair, or some blockages which can be caused by a variety of products one applies on to the skin. The risk for this infection can be increased by shaving or plucking hairs. The symptoms are tiny, red bumps, but it can also manifest as white-headed pimples (those with pus). People that get acne have more chances to get this infection in comparison to those who have a clearer complexion. This infection doesn’t have to be treated as it can heal on its own. If it lasts longer, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. When untreated, bacterial folliculitis can cause hair loss to the area it’s affected.

Hot Tub Folliculitis

This infection shows up in the form of pus-filled bumps and an itchy red rash. These can appear anywhere on the body. Other names for this infection are “pseudomonas folliculitis” and “Jacuzzi folliculitis” due to the fact that it is most commonly contracted through contaminated whirlpools, hot tubs and pools. What causes it is the Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. This bacteria can survive in chlorinated water, which means it is quite resistant. Children are more prone to this condition due to their skin being thinner. People with acne or dermatitis are also more likely to get it.


Also known as a boil, this type of infection is quite painful. It forms itself around hair follicles. It all starts as a small, tender red bump, but then it gets larger and filled with pus. If shouldn’t be left untreated because it can develop into an abscess. Contrary to folliculitis, which only affects the hair follicle, this infection takes over the whole pilosebaceous unit. These units are located throughout the body and make up the shaft, follicle, sebaceous gland, and arrector pili muscle. Consequently, the symptoms appear on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, and thighs.


This is a superficial skin infection. It is caused by the Corynebacterium minutissimum bacteria. At first it shows up as skin lesions of well-defined pink patches. Then they turn red, then brown and lastly – scaly. Erythrasma appears on areas where skin touches skin. That means, it appears on the armpits, groin and also between the toes. Sometimes this infection can get confused with fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and jock itch. Itching may be a part of the symptoms, but only to a mild degree.