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Medical Dermatology >> Skin Infections

Skin Infections

Common Bacterial, Fungal, and Viral Infections of the Skin

The most typical bacterial infections of the skin are impetigo and folliculitis. Impetigo is a superficial infection of the skin showing as red, crusted oozing patches created by Staph or Strep bacteria. These are extremely infectious and react very well to oral and topical antibiotics. Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles created by Staph aureus bacteria that presents as red, tender pustules and responds effectively to oral antibiotics. When the infection in a follicle gets deeper and larger you have a boil known as a furuncle that responds to oral antibiotics.

Anytime one of these common infections does not respond to traditionally effective oral antibiotic therapy we must do a culture to determine if the infection is due to MRSA that is a resistant Staph organism that can cause serious infections and can be difficult to cure. As with any medical problem which you have, if the treatment is not effective you should return to your treating physician for a second opinion.

Fungal infections of the skin typically appear as red, scaly patches typically in a ring shape. This aesthetics has given rise to the misnomer ringworm as they have nothing to do with worms. The most frequent areas for fungal infections are the feet known as athlete’s foot or medically as tinea pedis, the groin known as jock itch or medically as tinea cruris, and on the body called ringworm or medically tinea corporis. The treatment is usually with a prescription cream and sometimes a prescription pill as well. Another extremely common fungal infection of the skin is called Tinea versicolor. With this condition the patients develop pink, whitish, or brownish flat scaly patches typically on the trunk that are effectively treated with antifungal pills, creams, and shampoos.

Two of the most common viral infections of the epidermis are warts and molluscum. Warts may occur anyplace and are dry with a cauliflower like surface. Molluscum contagiosum occurs more frequently in children and they look like firm pimples. Both warts and Molluscum can be treated with liquid nitrogen or topical preparations. Unfortunately effective treatment cannot be guaranteed and multiple treatments are often needed.

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