Skin infections come in many forms.
Skin infections affect the skin and are caused by a wide range of microorganisms, which include bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Other causes of skin infections are allergens, medications, and system disorders.
Common skin infections include impetigo, staph infection, cellulitis, folliculitis, boils, and herpes.
Understanding the Different Types of Skin Infections
1. Skin Infections Caused by Bacteria
Skin infections caused by bacteria are often characterized by redness, inflammation, swelling, and pain.
The swelling caused by the bacteria may produce pus which is most times thick and yellowish. Sometimes, bacterial skin infections cause fevers, and chills, and these types of infections are contagious.
They can be spread via contact or shared personal belongings. These infections can spread to other parts of the body which could result in complications if left untreated.
Examples of skin infections caused by bacteria:
- Staph infections
Bacterial skin infections are usually treated with either topical, oral, or intravenous antibiotics, depending on their severity.
2. Skin Infections Caused by Fungi
Skin infections caused by fungi are commonly characterized by scaling and odor, and flaky red itchy bumps. Some fungal skin infections like ringworm are highly contagious.
Some common fungal skin infections include:
- Athlete’s foot
- Yeast infections
Fungal skin infections can be treated with topical and oral medications.
3. Skin Infection caused by Virus
Viral skin infections are mostly characterized by rashes that may evolve into blisters or crabs. Some viral skin infections come as a string of outbreaks.
Examples of skin infections caused by viruses include:
- Molluscum contagiosum
Viral skin infections can be treated using antiviral medications. Viral infections like warts can be treated via freezing and surgical removal.
4. Skin Infections caused by Parasites
Skin infections caused by parasites are associated with organisms that live on or inside their host’s body for survival. Common symptoms that can be observed from skin infections caused by parasites include red itchy rashes, swelling, and bite marks.
Parasitic infections are treated by killing the parasites with medications that can either be applied topically or administered orally.
Some common skin infections caused by parasites include:
- Scabies (caused by mites)
- Lyme disease (caused by ticks)
- Leishmaniasis (caused by sandflies) Other types of skin infections include:
Skin infections caused by allergens: examples include contact dermatitis, hives, and angioedema.
Treatment for such skin infections involves the use of antihistamines. It is also important to identify the cause of the allergic reaction, to avoid its triggers.
The Relationship Between Poor Hygiene and Skin Infections
Some skin infections can be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces. Good hygiene, particularly hand washing, is a mechanism that can be adopted to help lower the risk of skin infections and prevent their transfer.
Moist, warm, and dirty skin due to sweat and specks of dirt can serve as a good environment that encourages the growth of microorganisms that cause skin infections. Washing the skin regularly can help remove this sweat and clean out dirt
Sharing items like towels, combs, brushes, and even bedding can be instrumental in the spread of skin infections. These items are to be cleaned appropriately to kill causal organisms carried by them. This could help reduce the spread and risk of skin infections.
Relationship Between Skin Infections and Underlying Health Conditions
Underlying health conditions like diabetes and HIV/AIDS can increase the risk of skin infections as they can affect the immune system, thereby reducing the body’s natural defenses against skin infections.
The skin sometimes serves as a marker for an underlying health condition. For example, skin conditions like dermatomyositis, seborrheic keratoses, and carcinoid syndrome; can be indicative of underlying internal cancer.
Some other skin conditions are associated with gastrointestinal disorders.
The skin also functions as a barrier against infections. Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis affect the skin’s natural barrier against infections.
People with these conditions have an increased risk of contracting a skin infection.
Dermatologist Tips for Preventing Skin Infections
- Lesions, swelling, and sores caused by skin infections should not be squeezed or picked to avoid spread.
- Personal care items like towels, wash clothes, razors, and toothbrushes should not be shared.
- The skin should be properly dried after a bath.
- Proper hand-washing culture should be adopted.
- Caution should be applied when using public facilities.
- Underlying health issues should be properly treated or managed.
- Cuts, bruises, and scrapes that can act as an entry point for bacteria should be properly cared for to avoid contamination.
- Good hygiene practices should be adopted.
Natural Remedies for Skin Infections: What Works?
Natural remedies that may help relieve symptoms of skin infections include:
Tea tree oil: tea tree oil may be effective in treating skin infections caused by bacteria or fungi as it contains antibacterial and antifungal properties.
It can also help reduce inflammation and pain caused by these infections.
Tea tree oil is also used for allergic reactions like hives.
It is advisable to dilute tea tree oil in a carrier oil before applying directly on the skin.
Garlic: Garlic contains allicin which has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Garlic can help soothe inflammation caused by skin infections.
It can be applied directly on the skin or taken orally.
Honey: honey has been used for ages to treat certain skin conditions. Honey has bacterial properties which may be beneficial in treating skin infections. It can be applied directly to affected areas.
Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, a natural antibiotic with anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric can be applied directly after crushing it, or it can be taken orally.
While natural remedies can prove to be effective in the treatment of skin infections, it is important to know that natural remedies may not be safe or effective. It is important to consult a healthcare provider before embarking on natural procedures to treat your skin infections.
If your skin infection did not improve after your treatment, it is important to seek professional advice as this may be a sign of an underlying condition.
Also, see a doctor if you experience fever, difficulty breathing, or any sign of illness accompanied by your skin infection.
Last Updated on April 11, 2023 by Our Editorial Team