Your skin is your body’s first defense against bacteria. Skin that is healthy is effective in protecting the rest of the body against infection from bacteria. However, skin itself is a vulnerable organ and skin disorders caused by bacteria are not all that uncommon. While most skin disorders are not serious, proper treatment is necessary in order to alleviate associated symptoms.
There are two types of bacteria—Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus—that are the primary culprits of bacterial skin disorders. There are also several types of skin bacterial infections that are more common than others, including cellulitis, folliculitis, furuncles and carbuncles, erysipelas, erythrasma, and impetigo.
Cellulitis is a skin disorder that, unfortunately, can develop on normal skin that does not have any scrapes, cuts, or other wounds. It is an infection of the skin’s deeper layers, including the subcutaneous tissue and the dermis. Symptoms may include red, swollen skin that feels warm and is painful. Swollen lymph nodes and red streaks near the affected area may also appear. A person with cellulitis may also experience fatigue, fever, and chills.
As the name suggests, folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles. This type of skin disorder appears as small, red bumps and, in some cases, the bumps may be filled with pus. Standard folliculitis should not be confused with “hot tub folliculitis,” which is a skin disorder that is contracted in hot tubs or pools. Folliculitis is caused by S. aureus, while hot tub folliculitis is caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Furuncles and Carbuncles
Furuncles and carbuncles are follicular infections. Furuncle is a more extensive infection than folliculitis since it affects both the follicles and the sebaceous gland. This type of bacterial skin disorder commonly affects the face, neck, buttocks, and armpits. Symptoms include small, red nodules that may be painful. A carbuncle is characterized by multiple furuncles that are grouped together. This type of skin disorder may appear as a large, red nodule that may include areas of pus beneath the skin’s surface. The area may feel hot.
This skin disorder is considered a superficial skin infection that usually involves the lymphatic system. This condition commonly occurs in areas of the body where there is an obstruction in the lymphatic system. Most cases now involve symptoms in the lower extremities of the body. At first, symptoms such as fatigue, fever, vomiting and chills may be experienced. These symptoms are usually followed by a skin rash.
This bacterial skin disorder occurs where the skin comes into contact with skin, such as in the armpits, between the toes, and in the groin area. The condition is commonly mistaken for a fungal infection since its dark appearance is similar to fungal infections such as jock itch. If symptoms are not reduced with anti-fungal treatments, it is important to seek a proper diagnosis from your doctor.
The bacterial skin infection known as impetigo affects the skin’s top layer (epidermis). This infection appears as a crust that is honey-colored. It most often occurs where there are minor breaks in the skin’s surface. Cuts, insect bites, or skin conditions such as scabies, eczema, herpes, or chickenpox can also make a person more susceptible to contracting impetigo.
When to See Your Doctor
Anytime that you notice aberrations in your skin that you haven’t experienced before, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor. While most skin conditions can be resolved in a relatively short period of time, it is better to be safe than sorry. It’s important to not risk spreading the infection to others, and to ensure that your symptoms do not become worse. With a proper diagnose, you will be able to benefit from the most effective form of treatment.
Image: Impetigo, from bupa.co.uk
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.