Skin infections

Woman in bath robe showing back skin


What is a skin infection?

The skin is the largest organ of the body and protects the body from infection. It too can become infected by germs, which can leave your skin itchy, or with a rash, or pus and fluid leaking out, or sores that look like blisters.

Some of the most common skin infections include:
 

  • Impetigo
  • Boils
  • Warts
  • Shingles
  • Ringworm
  • Yeast infection.
     

What are the different types of skin infections?

A skin infection can be split into the four following categories:
 

  • Bacterial infection - such as boils, impetigo, leprosy.
  • Viral skin infection - these conditions, shingles, herpes, chickenpox, warts, measles and hand, foot and mouth disease are caused by a virus.
  • Fungal infection - caused by a fungus and develops in dark areas of the body, includes athlete's foot, oral thrush, ringworm or nail fungus.
  • Parasitic infection - the result of a parasite and includes lice, bedbugs or scabies.

What causes skin infection?

The following can cause skin infection:
 

  • Bacterial - occurs when germs enter the body through a cut or a scratch. It's not always the case, but it depends on whether your immune system is weakened for an infection to develop. 
  • Viral - the commonest viruses come from either herpes, poxvirus or human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Fungal infection - fungi grow in warm, moist places on the body. They tend to occur in people who sweat a lot and who wear tight clothing.
  • Parasitic - minuscule insects can lay eggs under your skin. 
     

How is skin infection diagnosed?

A specialist known as a dermatologist will be able to make an examination of the location and the appearance of your skin infection to determine the type and the possible cause. 
 

How is skin infection treated?

The treatment will depend on the exact type of skin infection. Bacterial infections are commonly treated with a topical cream that can be applied to the skin and oral antibiotics.

Your pharmacist will be able to recommend the best over-the-counter creams for a fungal skin infection.

In cases of parasitic infection, your doctor will prescribe topical cream and oral medications that will reduce any inflammation. Antihistamines may also relieve any itching.