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)
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:
cutaneous larva migrans
Pictures of types of skin infections
What are the symptoms of 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
What are causes and risk factors for a skin infection?
The cause of a skin infection depends on the type of infection.
Bacterial skin infection: This occurs when bacteria enter the body through a break in the skin, such as a cut or a scratch. Getting a cut or scratch doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop a skin infection, but it does increase your risk if you have a weakened immune system.
A decreased immune system can be the result of an illness or the side effect of medication.
Viral skin infection: The most common viruses come from one of three groups of viruses: poxvirus, human papillomavirus, and herpes virus.
Fungal infection: Body chemistry and lifestyle can increase the risk of a fungal infection. For example, you may experience multiple bouts of athlete’s foot if you’re a runner or if you sweat a lot. Fungi often grow in warm, moist environments. Wearing sweaty or wet clothes is a risk factor for skin infections. A break or cut in the skin may allow bacteria to get into the deeper layers of the skin.
Parasitic skin infection: Tiny insects or organisms burrowing underneath your skin and laying eggs can cause a parasitic skin infection.