The skin is the one of the largest organs in the body and our protection against infections. However, it can also become the victim of infections by bacteria, viruses and fungi. The bacteria, viruses and fungi that cause skin infections can range from mild to severe. If you’re concerned about a potential skin infection, we encourage you to schedule a dermatology appointment at Hudson Dermatology & Laser Surgery. Our dermatologists are board-certified and experts at diagnosing and treating skin infections.
Those with preexisting conditions such as eczema or dermatitis are more susceptible to skin infections. Those suffering from an injury, both minor and significant, are also susceptible to skin infections. Despite preexisting conditions or injury, we are all susceptible to skin infections. Good hygiene is clearly important, but some times there is no prevention, only treatment.
There are literally hundreds of skin infections, but here are a few common infections:
Common Bacterial Skin Infections
Many bacteria can infect the skin, but the most common are Staphylococcus (Staph) and Streptococcus (Strep). Staph infections are easily spread and cause pain and redness, cellulitis, crusty itchy and painful blisters and abscesses. They can spread to other parts of the body and cause dangerous and potentially deadly infections. Strep infections cause strep throat and skin infections that can be life-threatening if spread to other parts of the body. They are easily spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person.
Cellulitis is common infection of the deep layers of the skin. The infection spreads from the surface of the skin to the deeper layers causing redness, pain, swelling and heat, and can permanently damage the skin.
Folliculitis is inflammation of the hair follicles due to an infection with staphylococcus or a fungus. It is common in people with acne and shaving increases the risk of folliculitis. Often it resolves without treatment, but severe infection can cause permanent hair loss. It can affect any part of the body that has hair including the head, neck, trunk, buttocks, arms and legs.
Impetigo is common, contagious childhood infection caused by Staph that creates scabby, yellow, crusted sores and small blisters filled with yellow fluid on the face, arms and legs. The lesions are itchy and painful. Scratching spreads the infection.
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
MRSA is a bacterial infection caused by antibiotic-resistant staph aureus, often acquired in a hospital or health care facility or a community. MRSA can live on surfaces longer than most other bacteria and viruses. MRSA causes ulcers that spread the infection through the blood. Untreated MRSA is life threatening infecting tissues and organs like a heart valve, bone, a joint or lungs.
Necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating disease, is an infection that results in the death of parts of the body’s soft tissue. It is a severe disease of sudden onset that spreads rapidly. Symptoms include red or purple skin in the affected area, severe pain, fever, and vomiting.
Common Viral Skin Infections
You can catch a viral infection by skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. The Herpes simplex virus and Varicella Zoster Virus can cause shingles, chickenpox, and cold sores are all common viral skin infections.
Chickenpox (Varicella zoster)
Chickenpox is a red, itchy blistering rash all over the body. It usually affects children, but can affect adults. Fortunately, the development of the chickenpox vaccine has reduced the number of cases significantly.
The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores. Cold sores can occur both on the inside of the moth, outside of the mouth and on other areas of the body.
The Human Papilloma Virus is the cause of all warts. Warts are contagious and may be painful. They can appear on the hands or where the skin is shaved and can infect the genitals and lead to cervical cancer.
A skin abscess is a warm, painful pocket of pus (a boil) under the skin caused by a Staph infection. The most common places for boils to appear are on the face, neck, armpits, shoulders, and buttocks. When one forms on the eyelid, it is called a sty. If several boils appear in a group, this is a more serious type of infection called a carbuncle.
Measles is a viral infection that affects the respiratory tract first and then enters the blood and travels through the body and creates a characteristic skin rash. It is typically spread through a sneeze or cough. The virus can live outside the body for up to two hours.
This infection causes small, flesh- colored bumps that usually disappear in 6-12 months without treatment. It often affects children but can affect anyone who acquires the virus.
Shingles is an infection that also causes chickenpox. The virus lives dormant for decades after getting the chickenpox, and if it is reactivated it causes shingles. Shingles is a painful red rash that also itches and causes blisters on the torso, neck and face. One out of three people in the US will develop shingles at some time in their lives.
Hand foot and mouth disease
This is a highly contagious infection caused the Coxsackie virus, and is easily spread through direct contact with unwashed hands and surfaces with contaminated feces, or saliva. It creates blisters or sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet and typically affects children under age 5. It is usually mild and goes away on its own in a few days.
Fungus live in the soil, spread through the air and infections typically begin on the skin or in the lungs. They are usually not serious except for people with a compromised immune system.
Ringworm (Tinea corporis)
Ringworm is a fungal infection that spreads easily from skin to skin contact. It is easy to diagnose because it creates a circular shaped rash. It can affect the feet (athlete’s foot), groin (Jock itch), scalp, hands, toenails and fingernails. If not properly treated it can lead to bacterial infections and dermatitis.
Jock itch (Tinea cruris)
Jock itch is a fungal infection that affects the skin of your genitals, inner thighs and buttocks. Jock itch causes an itchy, red, often ring-shaped rash in these warm, moist areas of your body
Tinea capitis is a disease caused by superficial fungal infection of the skin of the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes, with a propensity for attacking hair shafts and follicles.
Parasitic infections are caused by parasites that burrow into the skin and lay eggs.
They include: Lice, bedbugs, and scabies (Mites).
Hudson Dermatology & Laser Surgery provides board-certified medical dermatology to New York City and the surrounding area. If you’re concerned about potential skin infections, schedule an appointment today. From diagnosis to treatment and management, we can help.