As the body’s largest organ, your skin is typically an effective barrier to internal infection. At times, however, the skin may be host to a number of rashes and other conditions that occur due to the presence of bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can cause skin infections.
Bacterial skin infections:
While bacteria are normally present on the skin, they are typically harmless. However, any break in the skin may increase your risk of a bacterial infection. The most common types of bacteria that cause skin infections are Staphylococcus (staph infection) and Streptococcus (strep infection).
Common Bacterial Skin Infections include:
- Boils: A boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. At first, the skin turns red in the area of the infection, and a tender lump develops. After four to seven days, the lump starts turning white as pus collects under the skin.
- Cellulitis is a common infection of the skin and the soft tissues underneath. It happens when bacteria enter a break in the skin and spread.
- Folliculitis: follicles -- tiny pouches of skin that hold the roots of your hair -- get inflamed and cause red, itchy, burning skin, tenderness, and pain.
- Impetigo: a highly contagious bacterial skin infection. It can appear anywhere on the body but usually attacks exposed areas.
- Staph Infection: The infection often begins with a little cut, which gets infected with bacteria. These staph infections range from a simple boil to antibiotic-resistant infections to flesh-eating infections.
Fungal skin infections:
Fungi are typically found in warm, moist areas of the body with skin-to-skin contact, such as between the toes and under toenails, in the genital area, under the breasts, and between skin folds in obese people. Fungal skin infections are most commonly caused by yeasts or dermatophytes (a group of fungi that invade and grow in dead keratin, a protein found in the outer layer of skin as well as hair and nails).
Common Fungal Skin Infections include:
- Athlete's Foot: a common fungal infection that often shows up on the bottom of the feet and between the toes, where it’s dark and moist, making them itchy, dry, and cracked, and can sometimes cause bleeding
- Candidiasis (yeast infection): an infection caused by a group of yeasts. There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi live on all surfaces of our bodies.
- Fungal Nail Infections:occurs when a fungus attacks a fingernail, a toenail, or the skin under the nail, called the nail bed.
- Ringworm: worms don't cause ringworm. Rather, this superficial skin infection, also known as tinea, is caused by fungi called dermatophytes.
- Sporotrichosis: This fungus is related more closely to the mold on stale bread or the yeast used to brew beer than to bacteria that usually cause infections. The mold is found on rose thorns, hay, sphagnum moss, twigs, and soil. Therefore, the infection is more common among gardeners who work with roses, moss, hay, and soil.
Viral Skin Infections:
Viruses that cause skin infections most often enter the body through a break in the skin or from direct contact with another infected person. The most common types of viruses that cause skin infections are herpes simplex, herpes zoster, human papillomavirus (HPV), and poxvirus.
Common Viral Skin Infections include:
- Herpes: this is typically linked to sores in the genital area in both men and women, caused by a form of the herpes virus (type 2). Once you’re infected, the virus stays in your body, but it doesn’t always cause sores.
- Molluscum contagiosum: a viral skin infection that causes either single or multiple raised, pearl-like bumps (papules) on the skin.
- Shingles (herpes zoster) results from a reactivation of the virus that also causes chickenpox.
- Chickenpox (varicella), a viral illness characterized by a very itchy red rash, is one of the most common infectious diseases of childhood.
- Warts: an infection in the top layer of skin, caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus, or HPV, family. When the virus invades this outer layer of skin, usually through a tiny scratch, it causes rapid growth of cells on the outer layer of skin – creating the wart.
If you think you may have a bacterial, fungal, or viral skin infection, contact RA Clinics for an appointment. Dr. Rami can diagnose your skin disorder and recommend treatment options.