You do a lot to protect your skin – from keeping it safe from UV rays to moisturizing it to retain that youthful glow. Your skin makes up who you are, so it’s no wonder that you would do everything you can to keep it healthy. But, did you know that similar to other organs in your body, your skin can become infected? How do you know if your skin has been infected, and what can you do to treat it?
What are Skin Infections?
There are four different types of skin infections – including bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic. As germs contaminate your body, they can cause mild to severe cases of infections that can impact not only your skin but your general health. Most skin infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications or home remedies, but if left untreated, some infections could require immediate medical attention.
Symptoms of Skin Infections
The severity of your skin infection paired with the type can impact the symptoms that occur. In general, skin infections include redness of the skin and a rash, but they can also include itching, pain, and tenderness. In some cases, you may also develop pus-filled blisters. If this happens, you should visit an emergency room immediately, as this is a sign of a more severe skin condition. Signs of severe skin infections include:
- Skin sloughing, breakdown
- Dark or discolored and painful skin
Bacterial Skin Infections
If your skin has a bacterial infection, it will begin as small, red bumps that slowly increase in size. Sometimes these bumps can be warm to the touch, tender, or blister. They’re usually caused by bacteria entering the body through a cut, scratch, or another break in the skin. The most common bacterial skin infections include:
Viral Skin Infections
Viral skin infections typically produce localized or disseminated lesions. It begins with a fever and then spreads to vesicular rashes on the skin. These rashes contain replicating viral organisms and are infectious. Common viral skin infections include:
- Hand/foot/mouth disease
Fungal Skin Infections
Living up to its name, fungal infections usually develop in damp areas of the body – like the feet or armpit. Your lifestyle and body chemistry play a heavy role in developing fungal conditions. Any activities that involve sweating heavily or wet clothes can increase your risk – especially if a break or cut in the skin occurs, allowing bacteria inside. They’re not typically life-threatening, but some fungal infections are contagious. The most common fungal skin infections include:
- Athlete’s foot
- Yeast infections
- Nail fungus
- Diaper rash
Parasitic Skin Infections
Parasitic skin infections occur when parasites contaminate the body. Tiny insects or organizations burrow underneath your skin and lay eggs which can cause the infection. These infections can spread to the bloodstream and organs – making them severe, but not life-threatening. Parasitic skin infections are more uncomfortable than anything else, but they should be treated quickly nonetheless. Some of the most common parasitic skin infections include:
- Cutaneous larva migrans
Diagnosing Skin Infections
If you have signs of any of the four types of skin infections, you should visit your doctor. While most skin infections are non-life-threatening, they can quickly become more severe if left untreated. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and identify the type of skin infection based on the appearance and location – but in some cases, a skin cell sample may be tested.
Skin Infection Treatment
The treatment of your skin infection depends on the type, severity, and location of the condition. Most bacterial infections can be easily treated with topical antibiotics or oral antibiotics. Medicated creams help treat parasitic infections, and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce discomfort. You can also use over-the-counter anti-fungal sprays or creams to treat fungal skin infection. If your condition doesn’t improve for any of these infections, you should talk to your doctor.
Unlike other types of infections, some viral skin infections — like Herpes — cannot be cured. Instead, symptoms can be treated and suppressed to promote healing from blisters and other conditions. To determine the best treatment plan for your viral skin infection, you should consult with your doctor.
Preventing Skin Infections
One of the best ways to prevent skin infections is to thoroughly and often wash your hands. By maintaining good body hygiene, you can lower your risks of receiving an infection. Properly maintain cuts and other breaks in the skin by cleaning the wound and applying bandages to keep dirt and other germs out.
If you need to use a public bathroom or shower, wear shoes to prevent fungal infections. Also, avoid physical contact with people that have scabies or an active herpes infection. If you have a skin infection, you should also avoid making contact with other people until you get the go-ahead from your doctor.
Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas
If you or a loved one have signs of a skin infection, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.
Find the Complete Care location nearest you.