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Most bacteria are harmless, vital even, playing an important role in digestion and fighting infection.1 For example, beneficial gut bacteria help with digestion and immunity, making your body more resistant to disease, deriving as much benefit from you in return.
HOW YOUR SKIN BECOMES INFECTED?Back to top
HOW YOUR SKIN BECOMES INFECTED?Back to top
Commonly found on the skin, even in healthy people, Staphylococcus aureus or S.aureus is the most common bacteria involved in infections of the skin and wounds.3e
TYPES, SIGNS AND SYMPTOMSBack to top
IMPETIGOBack to top
- Mainly affects infants and children4
- Frequently occurs on the nose and mouth but also the hands and feet4
- Classic signs include red sores that ooze and rupture and then form a yellowish-brown crust.4
- Highly contagious, it can spread to other parts of the body and to other children
through contact with the infected area4
FURUNCLE (BOIL)Back to top
- Affects people of all ages5
- Commonly found on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks and thighs but can appear anywhere on the body5
- Symptoms include a swollen, red lump in the skin (sometimes, a hair will grow in
it), painful to touch and filled with liquid or pus that may ooze out of a central ‘head’5
- The boil itself is not contagious but the pus inside it is, particularly if it is oozing5
FOLLICULITISBack to top
- Occurs anywhere on the skin where there is hair, frequently affecting adult men6,7
- Commonly found on the neck, in the beard area, breasts, buttocks, back and
- Hair follicle(s) become inflamed and infected and manifests as a tender pustule.6,7
- While not usually contagious, prevent the spread of bacteria by not sharing razors and other personal items such as towels and washcloths.8
Infected woundsBack to top
- Any wound contaminated with dirt or bacteria can get infected, especially deeper
scrapes which tend to grind dirt into the skin, and puncture wounds8.
- Wound pain that worsens a day or more after the injury often indicates the first sign of infection, and the wound may become red and swollen, ooze pus, and a fever may develop.8 While the wound itself is not contagious, to reduce the spread of bacteria to others, keep any cuts clean and covered.8
How is a bacterial skin infection diagnosed?Back to top
How is it treated?Back to top
Treatment usually involves antibiotics and drainage of the infected area.10 Topical antibiotics can play an important role in the prevention and treatment of many bacterial skin infections.3
Topical antibiotic creams and ointments, such as fusidic acid or mupirocin can be prescribed or recommended over-the-counter for bacterial skin infections such as impetigo, infected cuts and grazes, and infected dermatitis. Topical antibiotics work by stopping the growth of the bacteria causing the infection. These topical creams can also be used to prevent wound infections from occurring.3 Sodium fusidate (available as an ointment) is a salt of fusidic acid and it works in the same way.11 Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to recommend the appropriate product to treat your infection.
In most cases, a bacterial skin infection does not cause serious harm. However, if left untreated, and the infection continues to penetrate even deeper it could enter the bloodstream, joints, bones, lungs or heart, and become dangerous.10
Reducing your risk of getting or spreading a bacterial skin infectionBack to top
washing hands thoroughly, keeping wounds covered, not sharing personal items and taking care when handling food.10
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). How Infection Works. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209710/. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Stanford Children’s Health. Bacterial Skin Infections in Children. Available at: https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=bacterial-skin-infections-in-children-90-P01886. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Leyden JJ. The Role of Topical Antibiotics in Dermatologic Practice. Available https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/457542_6. Accessed 28 February 2019.
⦁ Healthline. Skin Infection: Types, Causes, and Treatment. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-infection. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Koning S, Verhagen AP, van Suijlekom-Smit LWA, et al. Interventions for Impetigo (Review). The Cochrane Collaboration. The Cochrane library 2009;3:1-75. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD003261. Available at: DOI: 10.1002/14651858 CD003261.pub2. Accessed 15 May 2017.
⦁ Mayo Clinic. Impetigo. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/impetigo/symptoms-causes/syc-20352352. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Johns Hopkins Medicine. Impetigo. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/impetigo. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Cleveland Clinic. Boils & Carbuncles. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15153-boils–carbuncles. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Stulberg DL, Penrod MA, Blatny RA. Common Bacterial Skin Infections. Am Fam Physician 2002;66(1):119-24.
⦁ Massachusetts General Hospital. Folliculitis and Carbuncles. Available at: ⦁ https://www.massgeneral.org/conditions/condition.aspx?id=174⦁ &⦁ display=about_this_condition. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Kaji AH. Wounds. Available at URL: ⦁ https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/injuries-and-poisoning/first-aid/wounds?query=Lacerations#. Accessed 25 March 2019.
⦁ Summit Medical Group. Wound (Skin) Infection. Available at: https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/pediatric_health/hhg_wound_infection/. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Johns Hopkins Medicine. Other Bacterial Skin Infections. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/other-bacterial-skin-infections. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ Mayo Clinic. Staph Infections: Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/staph-infections/symptoms-causes/syc-20356221. Accessed 15 July 2019.
⦁ National Health Service (NHS). Staph infection. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/staphylococcal-infections/. Accessed 15 July 2019.
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