Skin Infections

Skin infections affect millions of Americans each year. These may manifest as simple rashes, or sometimes may have more severe manifestations. While most skin infections are not life threatening, some can be quite dangerous.

Certain conditions or diseases can weaken the skin’s defenses and increase the risk of skin infection such as cuts or scrapes, sunburn, a weakened or compromised immune system, and diabetes. It is important to have any skin infection evaluated and treated by a dermatologist.

Our medical staff excels at diagnosing and successfully treating all types of skin infections.

The majority of skin infections can be divided into 3 groups:

Bacterial Infections occur when bacteria break through the skin’s protective barrier. Bacteria are found everywhere, including on our skin. Healthy skin is designed to withstand the bacteria that we encounter everyday. However, sometimes a simple cut or scrape can compromise this important first line of defense. Some common bacterial infections include:

  • Impetigo
  • Cellulitis
  • Boils
  • Staph infections
  • Bacterial Infections Treatment

Bacterial Infections Treatment

  • Bacterial Infections are generally treated with antibiotics. While most are curable when diagnosed early, some infections can become life threatening. Specific treatment will vary by type of infection and a patient’s individual health.

Viral Skin Infections affect millions of Americans each year. They are typically contracted as a result of contact with an infected person. Four main groups of viruses cause the majority of viral skin infections:

  • Herpes simplex virus (causes cold sores)
  • Herpes Varicella-Zoster (causes shingles & chickenpox)
  • Human Papillomavirus (causes warts)
  • Poxvirus (causes Molluscum Contagiosum)

Viral Skin Infections Treatment

  • Viral Skin Infections often run their course, and your immune system develops antibodies to fight the virus, as in chickenpox. In other cases, anti-viral medications can be used. Preventative measures like vaccinations are available for some viruses.

Warts and Molluscum Contagiosum are common, benign growths caused by viral skin infections that can be passed from person to person, and occur more easily if the skin has been damaged in some way. Here are the most common types of warts and their symptoms:

Common Warts (verruca vulgaris)

  • Most often on fingers, around the nails, and on the backs of hands
  • More common where skin was broken (i.e. from biting fingernails, or picking hangnails)
  • Can have black dots that look like seeds
  • Most often feel like rough bumps

Foot Warts (plantar warts)

  • Grow most often on soles of feet
  • Can grow in clusters
  • Often are flat or grow inward
  • Can feel like there are pebbles in a shoe
  • Can have black dots

Flat Warts

  • Can occur anywhere
  • Smaller and smoother than other types of warts
  • Tend to grow in large numbers – 2 to 100 at a time

Filliform Warts

  • Look like long threads or thin fingers that stick out
  • Often grow on face around mouth, eyes, and nose
  • Often grow quickly

Warts Treatment

  • Salicylic acid gel
  • Cantharidin
  • Cryotherapy (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen)
  • Electrosurgery (burning)
  • Laser treatments

Fungal Skin Infections are quite common and may affect many areas of the body including skin, hair, and nails. Fungi generally live in the dead, top layer of skin in moist areas of the body, such as between the toes, and groin. They can cause multiple types of infections, with varying severity, although, most are not serious and are easily cured. Fungal infections can pass from person to person, or be transmitted by pets, rodents, or contaminated soil. Moist areas of the body are at higher risk for fungal infections, such as the palms of hands, the soles of feet, the scalp, the groin, and under breasts. Common fungal skin infections include:

  • Athlete’s foot
  • Thrush
  • Ringworm
  • Jock itch

Fungal Skin Infection Treatment

  • Antifungal ointment or cream
  • Prescription antifungal drugs
  • Antifungal shampoos

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