From as young as we can remember, it’s drilled into us by our parents and media the importance of looking after our skin. From shielding your skin from harmful UV rays to wearing moisturizers to keep your skin lubricated, infections can creep up when you least expect them, no matter how careful you are or how brilliant your skincare routine is.
While the primary purpose of your skin is to protect your body from infection, the skin itself can become infected too. There is a wide range of germs and symptoms which can cause skin infections, varying from mild to life-threatening. Here, we will explore types of common skin infections and what steps you can take to relieve pain and get treatment.
Cellulitis is a common, often painful, and potentially serious bacterial skin infection. Symptoms of cellulitis include swelling, redness, and pain in the infected area of the skin. You may also get blisters on your skin and have painful, swollen glands. Cellulitis can occur in any area of the body, including the hands, feet, legs, and eyes.
If you have been diagnosed with mild cellulitis, you will be prescribed antibiotics by a doctor generally for one week. Symptoms may continue to worsen for the first 2 days of treatment. However, they should begin to improve afterward. You can check out the Patient’s guide on Cellulitis, which goes into detail about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this skin condition. They have a wide variety of accurate, trusted, and up-to-date medical and health topics to look at.
Boils are skin infections that are usually caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Boils are painful and hard lumps that fill with pus. While most boils will clear on their own, you should speak to your GP if they do not go away or you’re getting them often. A boil begins typically as a tender or itchy spot. Some boils can leak pus, appearing anywhere on the body.
Some actions can be taken to stop boils from returning. This includes soaking a flannel in warm water and pressing it against the boil. You should do this 4 times each day for 10 minutes at a time. Make sure the area around the boil is cleaned with an antibacterial soap, especially if pus leaks out. Until the boil heals, you should cover the area with gauze or dressing. If you’re in pain, you may find relief by taking ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Impetigo is a very contagious skin infection. However, it must be noted that it’s not normally serious. Impetigo tends to get better within 7 to 10 days if you seek treatment. Anyone is at risk of getting this skin condition. Although, it’s far more common in young children. Impetigo usually begins with blisters or red sores. But, redness can be harder to spot in black and brown skin. These blisters or sores burst quickly, leaving golden-brown, crusty patches.
You should see your GP if you believe you have impetigo. This is because they will examine you and establish whether it isn’t something more serious, such as cellulitis. If you do have impetigo, you will be prescribed antibiotic cream, which will speed up the recovery process. You may be given antibiotic tablets if it is very bad. To stop impetigo from spreading, you should stay at home, keep blisters, sores, and crusty patches dry and clean, and wash your hands often.
Shingle is a viral infection that can cause a sore rash. While shingles can appear anywhere on the body, it tends to occur as a single strip of blasters that normally wrap around the rise or left side of your torso. Shingles are caused by the virus varicella-zoster. This is the identical virus that causes chickenpox. Although shingles are not life-threatening, they can be extremely painful to endure. The most common symptoms of shingles are a painful or tingling feeling in a patch of skin, as well as headaches.
The good news is you can treat shingles yourself without seeing a GP. Actions include taking paracetamol to relieve pain, keeping the rash dry and clean to lower the chance of infection, and wearing loose-fitting clothing. To provide extra relief, you should consider using a cold compress.
Chickenpox is another common skin infection. Although, it mostly affects children. Adults can get chickenpox too. Chickenpox normally gets better on its own in roughly 1 to 2 weeks without the need to see a GP. The main symptom of chickenpox is a spotty, itchy rash. This can appear anywhere on the body.
Before a rash appears or after, you may also experience aches and pains, a high temperature, and loss of appetite. Chickenpox can be incredibly itchy, making children feel highly uncomfortable, even if they haven’t got many spots. Chickenpox spots look the same both on adults and children. However, adults typically have more spots and a higher temperature for longer. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, take paracetamol, and use cooling gels or creams.
Warts are small lumps on the skin. Most people will have warts at some point in their lifetime. They normally clear on their own but may take several months to do so. It can be hard to establish if you have a wart or not. Warts usually feel rough and firm. They’re commonly found on the knuckles, fingers, knees, and palms. Warts are normally skin-colored but can appear darker if you have dark skin. In general, warts don’t cause any harm. However, some people find them embarrassing, painful, or itchy.
To treat warts, you can purchase sprays, plasters, and creams from your pharmacy. Most treatments can take up to 3 months to finish. You may find some creams or gels irritating the skin. If you have any concerns about your warts, you should see your GP, especially if you have warts that keep returning or bleeding or if there’s a change in how they look.
7. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that usually starts between the toes. This infection commonly happens in those whose feet have become very sweaty, such as through exercise and tight-fitting shoes. One of the most common signs of an athlete’s foot is a scaly, itchy rash. Athletes’ foot is contagious and can be easily spread via towels, contaminated floors, and clothing. It can be treated with antifungal medications. However, the infection often returns.
In some instances, an athlete’s foot can affect the sides or soles of your feet. You may get blisters full of fluid too. Should you not get the infection treated, it can spread to your toenails and result in a fungal nail infection. It’s unlikely that an athlete’s foot will go away on its own. Therefore, you should visit a local pharmacy and purchase antifungal medicine. It will typically take a couple of weeks for these to work. You can use sprays, creams, or powders to treat athletes’ feet.
All the skin infections listed above can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungus, or parasites. Only you will know your body inside out, so if you notice any changes to the skin and have any concerns, it’s time to see your GP.