Today, we would be talking about the three main types of bacterial skin infections, their causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Basically, there are three main types of bacterial skin infection which are, impetigo, boils and cellulitis.
Impetigo which is mainly common in children is highly contagious. It begins with a red patch, usually around the mouth or nose, and after a day or two, develops into a cluster of tiny blisters which then forms a yellow-brown scab. Other symptoms may include fever and swollen lymph glands in the face or neck.
Boils, known as furuncles, are painful inflammations of the hair follicles and the tissue beneath them. They are red bumps filled with pus that appear most often on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks and the thighs.
Cellulitis is the most serious of the bacterial skin infections because it can lead to blood poisoning. It affects the deeper levels of the skin, extending to connective tissue, causing the skin to become red, swollen, tender and warm to touch. The infection can cause fever and chills.
Many of the same types of bacteria cause these infections, but the infections affect different skin structures.
- Impetigo: This skin condition is caused by an infection of staphylococcus, streptococcus, or both bacteria in the top layer of the skin. The infection may follow a respiratory infection or occur when bacteria infects a minor skin lesion, such as a cut or an insect bite. Because of impetigo is highly contagious, it can be spread by contact with the skin of an infected person or towels and other personal items used by an infected person.
- Boils: These are usually cause by staphylococcus migrating from the surface of the skin into the hair follicles and the surrounding tissue in the dermis layer. To fight off the infection, the immune system sends the white blood cells to the follicles, causing inflammation and forming pus. Recurrent boils are especially common in people with diabetes and conditions that weaken the immune system. As with impetigo, boils can spread by touching an infected person or the personal items they have used.
- Cellulitis: There are several types of bacteria that can cause cellulitis, but the most common are staphylococcus and streptococcus. The infection usually follows a skin injury, such as a burn , bite, sore or surgical incision, but it can also begin with exposure to bacteria in water such as fish tanks or pond water or on animals. The risk of developing cellulitis is increased in medications or illnesses that suppress the immune system and by illnesses that reduce blood circulation like diabetes and peripheral vascular disease. This condition can occur anywhere on the body, but is especially common on the legs, feet, trunk, arms, and face. Cellulitis of the skin around the eye sockets is commonly found in children, and unless it is treated immediately, this type of cellulitis can spread to the brain.
Good hygiene can help prevent bacterial skin infections from forming and spreading. Prevent skin injuries by wearing gloves when necessary. Do not walk barefooted. Avoid contact with people who have bacterial infection. If infection develops, prevent it from spreading within the household by washing pillowcases and bedsheets daily. Also keep personal items of infected person(s) away from other people. Never try to drain a bacterial skin infection on your own, this can spread the infection.
A doctor can diagnose bacterial skin infections based on appearance and a health history. I f an infection is draining fluid or pus, the doctor may take a sample to identify the type of bacteria.
The main aim of the treatment is to cure the infection and prevent further complications, as well as to prevent the infection from spreading to others. Boils usually heal on their own, but the other bacteria skin infections need to be treated with antibiotics.
- Impetigo: Topical creams usually eliminate impetigo, but oral antibiotics are sometimes needed. The infected area on the skin should be washed several times a day to clear the crust and draining fluid.
- Boils: Warm, moist compress applied several times a day can help small boils drain and heal, usually within two weeks. As they drain, the boil should be washed regularly and covered with sterile dressing. Medical attention is needed for boils on the face or spine, large boils that do not heal within two weeks, or are accompanied by fever. A doctor may drain it surgically and prescribe oral antibiotics.
- Cellulitis: Antibiotics are needed to prevent blood poisoning. Mild cases of cellulitis can often be cured with oral antibiotics taken at home, while more severe cases can be treated with intravenous antibiotics given in hospitals. Warm compresses can also speed up recovery by improving blood flow in the affected area.