Skin infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Bacterial infections are most typically caused by group A β-hemolytic streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus.

Herpes simplex is the most common cause of a viral infection while Trichophyton is the most common cause of a fungal infection. Scabies and lice are common causes of a parasitic infection.

Skin infections can be primary or secondary. A primary infection is one with a single cause that affects otherwise normal skin. Boils and impetigo are common examples of primary skin infections. 

A secondary infection is one that attacks skin that is already diseased. Toe web infections are secondary skin infections.

How do You Treat a Skin Infection?

The treatment of a skin infection depends on the cause.

Staphylococcus or staph infections can be treated with antibiotics like cephalosporin or penicillin.

If the patient has a resistant infection like methicillin-resistant-Staphylococcus- aureus (MRSA), they may be treated with vancomycin, doxycycline or sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim.

Patients may also be given creams or ointments to soothe their skin.

A Streptococcus infection is usually treated with antibiotics like erythromycin or penicillin. The patient can take the medicine in pill form or as an injection.

Viral infections can be difficult to treat, and there is no cure for herpes simplex. Fortunately, the sores often clear up on their own.

There are treatments that can relieve pain and shorten the duration of an outbreak. Patients can either take pills or get injections to shorten the outbreak, and they can use antiviral creams to relieve the itching, tingling or burning.

Trichophyton rubrum causes the fungal infection often called ringworm, which can be treated with antifungal creams or ointments. Some of these medications are over-the-counter remedies.

The patient should use a cream that has clotrimazole or miconazole in it. Examples of ringworm treatments include Tinactin, Mycelex and Lamisil.

The patient should wash the rash with soap and water and then dry it thoroughly.

Any large blistered areas should be treated with compresses containing Burow’s solution that will dry out and soothe the blisters.

The patient should then apply the antifungal cream beyond the border of the rash.

Scabies is caused by a parasitic mite, and the symptoms include itching, a rash, and skin lesions.

The most common treatment is the application of a cream called Elmite. The patient has to apply the cream to their body from their neck to the soles of their feet before going to bed.

The patient should leave the cream on for 8 to 14 hours and then wash it off. They also need to keep their nails cut short since the mites can hide under nails.

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