Skin Infection: Causes, Types, Symptoms And Treatment

November 27, 2018     

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A skin infection is not just an itchy red patch. Scratch an itchy patch for a couple of days and it reshapes itself into a rash-monster engulfing the charm of your beautiful skin and attracting disgust from all the people around you. And sometimes, it does the exact same without any itch or scratch.

But why does it happen? What exactly is it? Let’s understand some basics of skin infection.

What Is Skin Infection?

Infection is the invasion of a microbe in our body that causes health issues. When the same happens on the skin, it’s called a skin infection. It can vary widely in type and severity While some of these infections are curable with home remedies, some of them might even require a surgery.

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What Causes Skin Infection?

Like mentioned before, skin infections are caused when your skin is attacked by harmful germs, These germs can be different species of bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Infection by different types of germs causes different types of infections.

How do the germs get to your skin? Well, germs are everywhere and we are constantly exposed to them – through air, water, contact (man & animal) and other ways. But skin is a protective organ and it is difficult for even germs to invade an unbroken skin.

Hence, we run the risk of infection more when we have an injury. It does not have to be a big cut in the skin; it can be micro-tears caused due to scratching or even due to friction with a hard fabric or other similar things. And on top of those, many people have the habit of picking on any irregularity (like a pimple, scar, drying wound, rash etc) on their skin. This creates a bigger surface for the germs to invade and breed.

To classify very broadly :

  • Bacteria infects a cut or injury.
  • Fungal germs breed in damp & warm places. This can be credited to a lack of hygienic practices.
  • Parasites spread through contact.
  • Viral infections can spread through air, contact or even as an extension of a pre-existing infection.


Common Skin Infections :

1. Ringworm


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Medically known as Tinea, a ringworm is a fungal disease. It grows like a circular red patch with grain-like bumps in its boundary. You can self-contaminate ringworm in other parts of your body. Itching makes the condition worse. Hence, it’s better to not touch it.

Ringworms are highly contagious. The fungus can even transfer from animal to human. It can even live briefly on soil, floors, towels, bedsheets etc. and spread from there.

2. Boils 


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Boils or carbuncles are caused under the effect of bacteria. These germs affect the hair follicles. It starts with a soft, red bump which gradually fills with pus. As it grows it becomes more and more painful until it bursts.

Warm compression can sometimes ease your pain and make the boil mature quickly. However, if it gets too big or painful, a dermatologist can ease your discomfort by carefully cutting a small hole in the boil to let out the pus immaturely.

3. Chickenpox 


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Chickenpox is characterised by an itchy rash all over the body and an accompanying fever. It is a viral infection. Hence, there is no cure for it. But the rashes generally disappear within 10 – 15 days. The irritation related to the symptoms can be managed with some medicinal pills and creams.

The rashes of chickenpox may leave a scar if they are not treated carefully. However, the good news is, once you have had chicken pox, it’s highly unlikely that you will have it again.

4. Scabies 


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Scabies is a parasitic infection caused by microscopic mites. Once they come on your skin, they can thrive there and breed for months if left untreated. They are highly contagious. The rashed are red and very itchy.

Scabies requires medical attention as soon as possible. Doctors suggest that any person who is in regular touch with the infected person, take the treatment along with him so that all the mites & their eggs can be destroyed at the same time.

5. Cellulitis 


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When you have cellulitis, your skin will become red, hot & swollen. This condition spreads in your skin very fast. It can spread to the deeper tissues; even in your bloodstreams. Generally, the symptoms begin in your lower leg. The skin abnormalities are accompanied by fever, chills and pain.

Immediate shots of antibiotics are necessary to prevent further damage and to wipe out the bacteria from your system.

6. Intertrigo 


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Red, itchy, bad-smelling rashes which occur in the folds of the skin can be symptoms of intertrigo. It can also surface as ‘nappy rash’. The germs causing intertrigo thrive in wet, moist areas where air circulation is less.

Intertrigo can be caused by either yeast, fungus or bacteria. So, without knowing what type of germ is infecting your skin, proper treatment is not possible. Hence, always consult an expert for these types of rashes.

7. Herpes 


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Herpes is caused by due to the infection of a virus. Once this virus is in your system, you cannot flush it out. But with proper treatment, you will not have an outburst of it all the time. The rashes and sores can be managed effectively with medication.

These rashes are found in the mouth and the genital area of both men and women. Hence, abstain from having sex if you have visible sores or other symptoms. Condoms can prevent the spread of herpes.

Do I Have A Skin Infection?

The indications of skin infection will typically start in the skin. In an advanced stage, the symptoms of skin infection can be felt in the form of a fever & weakness as well.

Take a look in the affected area and see if you experience any of these abnormalities.

  • Itch
  • Redness or discolouring of the skin
  • Rashes, blisters & bumps
  • Pain
  • Extra warmth
  • Pus or fluid
  • Swelling

You must also feel concerned if any normal-looking wound is not healing at a normal pace. Not every infection is marked with all of those symptoms – some of them may have additional symptoms.

Know When You DO NOT Have An Infection :

A lot of social alienation goes on if a person has any skin condition. And this is for good reason. Earlier, many skin diseases did not have treatments and many of them, as we already know, were contagious. Hence, staying away from the patient was the only way to avoid skin infections.

But now we know better than these. Now, we can differentiate between which is infectious and which is not. This brings us to the non-infectious skin diseases like Psoriasis, vitiligo, Melasma, allergic rashes, eczema, or acne. These skin conditions are not contagious. So, you can mingle freely with any person who might be suffering from these conditions.

Can Skin Infection Be Prevented?

Yes. Most type of skin infections can be prevented. All it takes being careful, maintaining good hygiene and consulting a doctor as soon as any symptom surfaces.


Practise the following:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly using soap.
    1. Before eating.
    2. After using the facilities.
    3. After travelling on public transport.
    4 .Use a soap dispenser.
  • Dry your hands
    1. Wipe your hands dry.
    2. Use paper napkin over a blow drier.
    3. If you use a towel, wash it daily.
  • Do not share a body towel.
  • Bathe properly & shampoo your hair.
  • Moisturise your skin to prevent dry cracks.
  • Use gloves wherever required.
  • Always carry a hand sanitiser with you.
  • Use antiseptic lotion and sanitizing liquid on cuts & wounds
  • Keep distance from an affected person until he has recovered entirely.
  • Vit C & Vit D boost your immunity. Eat vitamin-rich food to fight germs better.
  • Do not use a public/shared washing machine.
  • Wash your clothes and bedding material regularly.
  • While using a shared bathtub or a swimming pool make sure that they are maintained properly.

If you suspect any disturbance in your skin, Consult Our Dermatologists for better guidance. Skin diseases and the related conditions can be managed much better if the treatment starts at an initial stage of the infection.

On that note, let’s see how a skin infection is treated.

How Is Skin Infection Treated?

There are various ways of treating a skin infection. The treatments vary widely depending on the causal germ and the degree of infection.

Different Types Of Treatment For Skin Infections:

 1. Vaccination


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Many skin infections like measles, staph infection, HPV can be prevented with a vaccine. In India, these vaccines are given to children so that they build a stronger immunity against those diseases. This is why these infections are not very prevalent anymore. Even the chances of chickenpox can be reduced by taking a vaccine.

2. Home Remedies


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Skin rashes are itchy. But the infection becomes worse when you scratch. So, the first thing you need to do is to soothe the itchy sensation. Cold compression and aloe vera gel (frozen or regular) are great ways to control the itch.

Plus, if the rash or the infection is in a very initial stage, some over-the-counter medical cream can also help. Garlic & tea tree oil works on fungal infections. But they may not be useful for other parasites. However, if symptoms persist, do not continue self-treatment; consult a doctor.

3. Medicine

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Antibiotics in the form of pills and ointments can help eliminate many germs. But these medicines must be taken as per the suggestion of a certified dermatologist. For viral infections, antivirals may be used. However, it’s not always possible too medically cure viral infections; sometimes, you will just have to wait until the virus leaves your system on its own. But your doctor can give you medicines and guidelines on how to reduce the discomfort of the symptoms.

3. Surgery

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Generally, surgery will not be required for a skin infection if the treatment starts early. But if the infection reaches an advanced stage, a surgical intervention might be required.

Less invasive treatments may include deep cleaning of an infected wound, cutting off extra skin tags, making a small incision to ease the way of pus elimination.

But if the infection is not responding to medicines and is spreading uncontrollably in the deeper tissues, then your doctor will need to surgically remove the dead tissue along with the germs. After that, with good care, the surgical wound should heal normally.

Skin infections can occur very easily if you are careless about your hygiene. Similarly, they go away easily if you address the issue without delay. But if you ignore the condition for long enough, it can even lead to serious life-threatening conditions. If you experience any skin trouble, Consult Our Dermatologists before it’s too late.



‘CosmoSure’ is a renowned medical and surgical cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Hyderabad, which is considered to be the meeting point for science & art. Established in the year 2015, CosmoSure, cosmetic surgery clinic has been one of the most preferred cosmetic clinics in Hyderabad. All the procedures at Cosmosure clinic are a blend of a skilled & artistic touch. Our Specialists are trained with in-depth knowledge of aesthetic science and symmetry to help individuals to improve their skin health.