Most people are aware of the fact that the skin is the largest organ of the body. Its what gets in contact with the world first which is why its function is to protect the body from external factors. One of those external factors are infections. The skin can be the medium through which the body gets infected internally, but sometimes the skin itself becomes infected. These infections can be caused by a wide variety of germs, and the symptoms vary from mild to quite serious. It is possible to treat mild infections with over-the-counter medications and perhaps certain home remedies, but there are some for which medical attention is mandatory. That being said, here are the different types of skin infections.
Bacterial Skin Infections
These begin as small, red bumps which gradually increase in size. Some can be mild infections and easily treatable if topical antibiotics are used, but some require turning to oral antibiotics. The most common types of bacterial skin infections are: cellulitis, impetigo, boils, leprosy.
Causes: When bacteria penetrate the body through a break in the skin, we got a bacterial infection. So this usually occurs in the form of a cut or a scratch. Getting a cut or scratch doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to develop a skin infection, but it can increase the risk, especially if you are someone with weakened immune system. Your immune system can decrease if it’s fighting a disease or it can occur as a side effect of taking certain medications.
Viral Skin Infections
As the name itself implies, these are infections of the skin that are caused by viruses. They differ a lot from skin infections caused by bacteria or fungi, although some of their symptoms may be shared. One huge difference between viral skin infections and bacterial or fungal skin infections is the fact that viral skin infections can’t be cured using antibiotics or antifungal drugs. The most common types of viral skin infections are: shingles (herpes zoster), chickenpox, Molluscum contagiosum, warts, measles, hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Causes: The above-mentioned types of most common viruses are spread by the following: poxvirus, human papillomavirus, and herpes virus.
Fungal Skin Infections
As the name suggests, these skin infections are caused by a fungus and usually develop in damp areas of the body, such as the feet or the armpits. Fungal infections may or may not be contagious, and they are typically non-life-threatening.
Causes: Your personal body chemistry and the lifestyle you lead can increase the risk of developing a fungal infection. For instance, you may experience an infection in the form of athlete’s foot several times if you’re a runner or if you are someone who exercises and sweats a lot. Fungi simply love to grow in warm, moist environments. Wearing sweaty or wet clothes is another habit that can lead to developing such skin infections. And a break or cut in the skin can allow bacteria to accommodate into the deeper layers of the skin.
Parasitic Skin Infections
These skin infections are caused by a parasite. Parasitic skin infections can spread beyond the skin and reach the bloodstream and the organs. This isn’t to say that they are life-threatening, but they sure can be very uncomfortable. The most common types of parasitic skin infections are: lice, bed bugs, scabies, cutaneous larva migrans.
Causes: Very small insects or organisms go underneath the skin and lay eggs.
How are Skin Infections Diagnosed?
Usually, doctors are able to identify the type of skin infection just by its appearance and where it is located. But your doctor may also decide to ask about your symptoms and then closely examine the skin where you got bumps, rashes, or lesions.
How Are Skin Infections Treated?
The type of treatment chosen by a professional depends on what has caused the infection and how severe it is. There are those types of viral skin infections that can improve on their own. This may occur within a time-frame of several days or a few weeks.
For bacterial infections, the most common treatment are topical antibiotics which are applied directly to the skin. Next in line if the topical ones don’t work are oral antibiotics. If the bacteria is resistant to the treatment, a doctor may prescribe intravenous antibiotics which need to be administered in the hospital.
Fungal infections can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal sprays and creams. However, if the condition doesn’t improve, you need to see a doctor regarding a prescription of oral or topical creams.
Parasitic infections can be treated with medicated creams. In addition, your doctor may also prescribe you medications for reducing the discomfort such as anti-inflammatory drugs.
There are several things you can do as to reduce the chances of developing any kind of the above-mentioned skin infections. For one, you have to understand the importance of frequent hand washing. This is one of the best ways to ensure that regardless of the hygiene level of the space you share with other people or animals, you don’t let bacteria and other small organisms linger onto your skin (where it is exposed the most) for a long time.
Change your sheets regularly and wash them using longer program on your washing machine and hot water. If you hurt yourself, apply the necessary remedy for the wound and don’t touch it with dirty hands. Refrain from scratching too. Finally, wash your sweaty clothes immediately and refrain from wearing someone else’s clothes unless you are sure they are fresh clean.
Keep in mind the fact that skin infections may vary from mild to severe. Don’t wait for too long to make an appointment with your doctor if you are noticing a skin condition that’s causing you discomfort and thus disrupting your day-to-day life. Your doctor will asses the situation and be able to provide the necessary advice and recommend a treatment for getting rid of the infection.