Skin infections: types, causes and treatments

Skin infections can be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic in origin. Fortunately, they can all be treated effectively.

Last update: 23 January, 2022

The skin is one of the largest and most complex organs in the human body. Like any other tissue, the skin surface is prone to colonization and invasion by pathogens. Here’s everything you need to know about skin infections.

In general, skin infections can be caused by a wide variety of germs. In most cases, bacteria are the most common cause of this condition. However, some viruses, fungi, and parasites with an affinity for skin cells can also invade the skin.

Often, the entry of infectious agents occurs before a superficial or deep wound. Similarly, the depression of the immune system also facilitates the access of germs. Timely identification and approach determines a better prognosis and a lower risk of complications.

Symptoms of skin infections

Skin infections can be detected through redness and itching.

The clinical manifestations of skin infections can vary depending on the type of infection and the health status of the affected person. As usual, skin rashes and skin irritation are some of the most common symptoms. Other signs associated with this condition are the following:

  • skin swelling
  • Moderate to severe itching.
  • Redness of the affected area.
  • Pain and tenderness in the skin.
  • purulent discharge.

On the other hand, some serious infections can evolve with blisters, skin detachment and dark or necrotic coloration. Similarly, certain germs can progress into the bloodstream and spread in the blood, producing a critical condition known as bacteremia.

What are the types of skin infections?

Skin infections can be caused by a large number of microbes. Some are superficial and affect a small portion of the dermis, while others extend deeper and involve a larger amount of tissue. In this sense, it is possible to find the following types of skin infections:

bacterial infection

Bacteria are the main responsible for causing infections in adults and children. These germs usually invade the dermis through hair follicles or small wounds caused by scratches, burns or bites. Some of the most common bacterial skin infections are:

  • Impetigo.
  • Cellulitis.
  • Erysipelas.
  • Anthrax.
  • Folliculitis and boils.
  • skin abscesses
  • Necrotizing fasciitis.

Some studies state that the main agents responsible for this type of infection are Staphylococcus aureus Y Streptococcus pyogenes. Similarly, most of these infections are associated with painful pus-filled swellings. Also, some people may have a fever and chills.

fungal infection

Fungal infections are caused by fungi that invade the superficial layers of the skin. They usually occur in moist areas and folds of the body, such as on the feet, armpits, genitals, and under the breasts. Some of the most common forms of presentation are the following:

  • Tub.
  • Ptyriasis versicolor.
  • Athlete’s foot.
  • Sporotrichosis.
  • Cutaneous candidiasis.
  • Diaper dermatitis.

Different investigations suggest that the main responsible for fungal infections of the skin are fungi Trichophyton, Microsporum, epidermophyton, candida Y Malassezia. As usual, These infections usually cause light or dark patches with peeling and itchy skin.

Viral infection

Viruses are responsible for a large number of diseases that cause rashes and warts on the skin surface. Some of the viral infections with skin affinity are as follows:

  • Herpes labialis and genital.
  • Herpes zoster.
  • Molluscum contagiosum.
  • Warts due to human papilloma virus (HPV).
  • Hand-foot-mouth syndrome.

Similarly, there are several common eruptive pathologies in children that are caused by viruses, such as chicken pox, measles, rubella and rosacea. They usually present with small red spots scattered over the body and accompanied by intense itching.

parasitic infection

Some parasites, such as lice, colonize the skin and cause itching.

Worms and arthropods are parasites that can sometimes invade and infect human skin.. In this sense, some worms tend to parasitize the skin surface by direct action, while others migrate from a visceral focus. For their part, arthropods, such as lice and ticks, act by directly colonizing the skin.

Some studies estimate that pediculosis, or lice infection, is one of the most common skin parasites in tropical climates. Similarly, the following types of skin infections by parasites can be mentioned:

  • Scabies or scabies.
  • Tick ​​bites.
  • Tungiasis.
  • Myiasis.
  • Filariasis.
  • Onchocerciasis.
  • Cutaneous larva migrans.

Risk factor’s

In most cases, skin injuries and blows with sharp objects are the main cause of the entry of germs. Similarly, there are other conditions that can increase the probability of suffering from a skin infection, among which are the following:

  • Advanced age.
  • Mellitus diabetes.
  • circulation problems
  • Depression of the immune system by HIV/AIDS.
  • Chemotherapy and use of corticosteroids.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Wear tight clothing.

Treatment of skin infections

The treatment plan for skin infections depends on the causative agent and the severity of the clinical picture. In most cases, rash viral infections go away on their own within a couple of days.. However, warts usually require the use of medications for their removal.

On the other hand, fungal infections are often treated with antifungal lotions or oral drugs in severe cases. In addition, it is advisable to avoid humidity and sun exposure during treatment.

As for bacterial infections, these are usually treated with topical antibiotics under medical prescription. The use of oral antibiotics is exclusive for moderate to severe infections in the opinion of the treating physician.. People with resistance to treatment may require the use of intravenous antibiotics.

Similarly, skin parasites can be controlled with antiparasitic creams or oral medications. Some health professionals may recommend the use of lotions to relieve itching and decrease skin sensitivity..

Prevention is key to skin infections

Skin infections are the result of colonization and penetration of germs through the skin and mucous membranes.. However, most of these conditions can be prevented. In this sense, it is advisable to maintain good skin hygiene, avoid wearing tight clothing, wash your hands and not share personal items.

If a skin infection is suspected, medical attention should be sought as soon as possible. Health professionals are the only ones trained to identify the type of infection and provide the appropriate treatment.

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