Bacterial skin infections are common skin infections that can affect anyone, at any age, particularly those with weak immune system, elderly, obese and diabetics. The infection can range from merely annoying minor infection to life threatening condition, if neglected and not treated timely.
Some other factors that can cause bacterial infections are poor hygiene, hot and humid climate, and intake of steroids. Amongst the many species of bacteria (more than 200 species) that live in our skin, most bacterial skin infections are mainly caused by two harmful bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus and a form of Streptococcus, if barriers of the skin are breached by them. Though our skin is designed in such a way that they work as a shield against these bacterial infections, yet if there is any cut, burn or breakage in the skin, bacteria is able to enter the body and cause damage. Bacterial infection can be painful and uncomfortable as well.
Common Bacterial Infections
Some common bacterial infections include Impetigo, Folliculitis, Cellulitis, Erysipelas, Furuncles and Boils or Carbuncles.
Impetigo is a skin infection that affects the surface of the skin and is very contagious. Poor hygiene is the major contributor of this kind of infection. It needs to be treated immediately as another person can catch it easily. As this bacterial infection causes itching and sores, it can spread easily. The bacteria usually form in the beginning in an abrasion or cut.
To avoid spreading of bacteria, the cut should be cleaned and covered properly. Itching often compels a person to scratch the infected area. Precaution like proper hand wash with antibacterial soap and cleaning of the cut should be done to prevent infection. Mild impetigo can be treated at home using topical antibiotic. For severe infection, consulting a skin care professional will help to get the best course of treatment and prevent the infection from getting worse.
Cellulitis is another common bacterial skin infection that spreads rapidly to the soft tissues under the skin by bacteria entering through broken and dry skin. Cellulitis is caused by the bacteria streptococcus and staphylococcus. The infected area becomes red, swollen and tender. Large blisters can appear and pus can leak from the skin.
Infected person can feel fatigue, fever and chill. Those with weakened immune system, elderly, diabetics, and people with fungal infection have greater risk of developing this infection. Those who work with contaminated material must wear gloves to avoid cellulite infection.
Anyone having skin wounds should clean the wound and apply antibiotic to prevent cellulitis. Wound should be covered with bandage and regular dressing of the wound should be done to prevent cellulite infection. Diabetic people need to keep their skin moisturized and as a precaution protect their feet and hands by wearing gloves and proper footwear.
Doctors prescribe antibiotic to treat cellulite infection. Symptoms can disappear within a week but affected person must complete the course of antibiotics prescribed by the physician from 10-14 days. Cellulite commonly appears on legs and arms but children usually have cellulite infection on either head or neck. Severe infection of cellulite must be treated at hospital without delay, as infection can spread to other parts of the body and even reach the brain.
This skin infection is a form of cellulitis which affects the upper layers of patient’s skin. Its symptoms are quite similar to cellulitis, but mostly the infection occurs in the areas with blocked lymphatic system. Penicillin is used often to treat this bacterial infection. But anyone who is allergic to penicillin is prescribed erythromycin.
Folliculitis is a pus-filled blister, a kind of bacterial infection, in the hair follicle. Any part of our body with hair can have folliculitis, especially the part which gets excessive sweating or has ingrown hair or tight clothing that causes friction. Infection caused by staphylococci can come up just by even one follicle being irritated by shaving or any other reason. These painful red bumps are itchy and often develop pus.
Mild folliculitis infections do not require treatment as they usually clear up on their own in few weeks, unless there is a severe infection. In severe cases, antibiotic is given. Maintaining good hygiene is necessary to avoid passing on of this infection to others. Scratching the area and then touching some other person’s skin without washing hands properly or sharing towels with others can pass on the infection to others. To get relief from itching, warm compress can be used on the affected area. Topical antibiotic ointment can also be applied.
Furuncle or boils are skin abscesses which infects hair follicle and its surrounding tissues. They are caused by bacteria-staphylococcal. They appear as red blisters in the beginning and eventually change into pustules and increase in size. Where there is damage in the hair follicle bacteria enters deeper into follicle tissues and subcutaneous tissue.
They can occur in hair follicles of any part of body, but commonly they occur on face, neck, buttocks, armpit, or thighs. They can either be single or multiple. Warm and wet compress can help to burst the boil and give relief. Proper hygiene should be maintained while doing this. Touching with hands can spread infection to other areas. If the boil is too large, a skin care specialist is needed to surgically drain the pus and provide relief to the patient. Oral antibiotics are recommended often to clear the abscess.
When a group of hair follicles are infected, they are known as carbuncles. Infected skin forms a lump deep in the skin. They are also found in places like armpits, buttocks, thighs and face where there is hair. They are mostly caused by poor hygiene.
Often different bacterial infections show similar symptoms; visiting a skin specialist can help you to get proper diagnosis. Special attention should be given to contagious bacterial infection. Right and timely treatment will reduce the risk of spreading the treatment to other parts of the body. Practicing good hygiene and avoiding direct contact with the infected person can help to prevent it from spreading.
People with certain medical condition like diabetes, HIV and obesity can contract bacterial skin infection easily. Diabetic people are more at risk due to poor blood circulation and increased sugar level that inhibit white blood cells to fight the infection. Person suffering from HIV or AIDS and other weak immune system disorder are also vulnerable to bacterial infection easily because the body has less capacity to fight infection. Excessive perspiration puts obese people at the risk of getting bacterial infection.
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