Impetigo is a superficial type of bacterial skin infection, most often caused by staph or strep. It tends to affect children more commonly. Impetigo appears as blisters or sores on a pink or red base with a honey-colored crust. It can occur anywhere on the body, but usually affects the face and extremities. It’s very contagious and can be spread to other parts of the affected person or to other people.
Abscesses and folliculitis are bacterial infections of the skin usually associated with hair follicles. The main bacterial culprits are staph or strep. An abscess or folliculitis appears as a red bump with a pus-filled pocket at the base of a hair, and occurs when bacteria enter the skin either via the follicle or a tiny wound.
Cellulitis is an infection that usually affects the deeper levels of the skin (dermis and subcutaneous tissue). The affected area presents as a tender, red, hot patch, sometimes including local lymph node swelling. The person may or may not have fever and chills associated with the infection. The legs are the most common location affected, but it may occur on any part of the skin. Cellulitis can spread and become serious if it isn’t treated.
Herpes is a common infection caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Oral herpes causes cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth, and genital herpes can affect the groin area as well as the perianal region. The virus is spread through direct contact. Once infected, the virus lays dormant in the nerve cells. When triggered, the virus reactivates (wakes up) and the person will suffer an outbreak. Some common triggers of breakouts include stress, sun exposure, sickness, surgery, and fever.
The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. Once someone has been exposed to the chickenpox virus, it stays in the body. If the virus reactivates (wakes up), the result is the painful, blistering rash of shingles. Shingles is most common in older adults and usually affects a single segment on one side of the body. The available vaccine can prevent or decrease the chances of a shingles outbreak.
Bacterial Infections are usually treated with antibiotics. We may deem it appropriate to
take a bacterial culture to determine the best course of antibiotics. Most often, topical antibiotics can be used. However, depending on the severity of the infection, the body area involved, and the amount of surface area involved, oral antibiotics may be warranted. Abscesses require incision and drainage as an in-office procedure.