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Common Bacterial Skin Infections

What are some common types of bacterial skin infections?

Below are common bacterial skin infections.

Infection Symptoms Treatment
Erysipelas

A skin infection most often caused by beta-hemolytic streptococci. This condition often affects the face or legs. In rare cases it affects an area that was injured or where the skin is cut. Many people have a fever or flu-like symptoms. Symptoms may include:

  • Shiny, red, raised rash

  • Small blisters

  • Enlarged and sore lymph nodes

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics

Erythrasma

A bacterial skin infection of the top layers of skin, more common in the tropics. This is caused by Corynebacterium. minutissimum bacteria. This condition mainly affects obese adults and people with diabetes. It is often seen on parts of the body where skin touches skin. This includes under the breast and in the groin area. Symptoms may include irregular pink patches that turn into brown scales.

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics put on the skin or taken by mouth

The infection may return, needing another treatment.

Impetigo

A skin infection, caused by a streptococcal or staphylococcal infection. Symptoms include pus-filled blisters or pustules. Blisters can range in size from peas to large rings. There is often oozing honey-colored liquid and yellowish scabs. Impetigo tends to occur on the face, arms, or legs. It is most common in children. It is very contagious. But symptoms often don’t affect the whole body.

In most cases this is not serious. It responds well to treatment. Getting treatment right away may help prevent impetigo from infecting deeper layers of skin. Treatment often includes antibiotics put on the skin or taken by mouth.

Paronychia

A skin infection around a fingernail or toenail. This infection can be caused by a break in the skin from a hangnail, manicure, fingernail biting, or other long-term (chronic) irritation. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain

  • Pus-filled abscess

Treatment may include:

  • Using hot compresses

  • Soaking in warm water

  • Cutting the abscess to drain the pus

  • Taking antibiotics

  • If caused by a fungus, using antifungal cream or another antifungal medicine

Cellulitis

This is a deep infection of the skin caused by bacteria. It usually affects the arms and legs. Common symptoms include:

  • Redness or swelling of the skin
  • Tenderness
  • Warm skin
  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Blisters
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Red streaks from the original site of the cellulitis

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics (oral, injection, IV, or topical)
  • Keeping the area clean and applying dressings as instructed
  • Surgery
  • If your arm or leg is affected, elevating the arm or leg may help
  • Rest
  • Time to heal
  • Pain medicine as needed
Folliculitis An infection or irritation of the hair follicles.

It looks like little pimples on a base of a red, inflamed hair follicles. These bumps may ooze pus. They may also be:

  • Itchy
  • Painful
  • Red
  • Swollen

Treatment may include:

  • Warm compresses
  • Medicine to put on the skin or take by mouth
  • Good hygiene
Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome

This is a serious skin infection. The infection causes peeling skin over large parts of the body. Symptoms can include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Redness of the skin
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break easily and leave an area of moist skin that soon becomes tender and painful
  • Large sheets of the top layer of skin may peel away

Treatment may include:

  • Antibiotic medicine given by IV (intravenous) line into the vein
  • IV fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Feedings through a tube from the mouth into the stomach (nasogastric feeding), if needed
  • Use of skin creams or ointments and bandages
  • Pain medicines

The symptoms of bacterial skin infections may look like other skin conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.