What is a skin infection?
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Its function is to protect your body from infection. Sometimes the skin itself becomes infected. Skin infections are caused by a wide variety of germs, and symptoms can vary from mild to serious. Mild infections may be treatable with over-the-counter medications and home remedies, whereas other infections may require medical attention. Read on to learn more about skin infections and what to do if you have one.
What are the types of skin infections?
The following are four different types of skin infections:
1. Bacterial skin infections
Bacterial skin infections often begin as small, red bumps that slowly increase in size. Some bacterial infections are mild and easily treated with topical antibiotics, but other infections require an oral antibiotic. Different types of bacterial skin infections include:
2. Viral skin infections
Viral skin infections are caused by a virus. These infections range from mild to severe. Different types of viral infections include:
- shingles (herpes zoster)
- Molluscum contagiosum
- hand, foot, and mouth disease
3. Fungal skin infections
These types of skin infections are caused by a fungus and are most likely to develop in damp areas of the body, such as the feet or armpit. Some fungal infections aren’t contagious, and these infections are typically non-life-threatening.
Different types of fungal infections:
4. Parasitic skin infection
These types of skin infections are caused by a parasite. These infections can spread beyond the skin to the bloodstream and organs. A parasitic infection isn’t life-threatening but can be uncomfortable.
Different types of parasitic skin infections include:
What are the symptoms of a skin infection?
The symptoms of a skin infection also vary depending on the type. Common symptoms include redness of the skin and a rash. You may also experience other symptoms, such as itching, pain, and tenderness.
See a doctor if you have pus-filled blisters or a skin infection that doesn’t improve or gets progressively worse. Skin infections can spread beyond the skin and into the bloodstream. When this happens it can become life-threatening.
Signs of a severe infection include:
- skin sloughing, breakdown
- dark, necrotic-appearing skin, or skin that becomes discolored and painful
How is a skin infection treated?
Treatment depends on the cause of the infection and the severity. Some types of viral skin infections may improve on their own within days or weeks.
Bacterial infections are often treated with topical antibiotics applied directly to the skin or with oral antibiotics. If the strain of bacteria is resistant to treatment, treating the infection may require intravenous antibiotics administered in the hospital.
You can use over-the-counter antifungal sprays and creams to treat a fungal skin infection. If your condition doesn’t improve, ask your doctor about prescription oral or topical creams. In addition, you can apply medicated creams to your skin to treat parasitic skin infections. Your doctor may also recommend medications to reduce discomfort like anti-inflammatory drugs.