Skin infections occur when harmful germs (usually a bacteria, fungi or virus) find their way through a cut and are able to grow. Many skin infections respond well to simple, non-prescription remedies, but sometimes a course of antibiotics is needed to treat them.
Find out more below about what causes skin infections, what to look out for and a few simple steps to keep your skin clean and healthy.
Bacteria, fungi and viruses are usually to blame for skin infections. Like all harmful germs, they can spread from person to person by skin-to-skin contact; and around the home on our hands, clothes, pets, food and household objects.
There are several different types of skin infections and the type of infection depends on the microorganism causing it. Some common types of skin infections are:
A boil is a red, painful, lump on the skin that usually develops on the neck, face, armpit or buttocks
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layer of the skin (dermis) and the layer of fat and soft tissues (the subcutaneous tissues) that lie underneath the skin.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that often affects exposed parts of the body, such as your legs, arms or face causing a ring-shaped, red rash.
Athletes foot (Tinea pedis)
Athletes foot is a fungal infection which usually causes itching, burning and scaly cracked skin in the space between your toes.
Symptoms will vary depending upon the type of infection, however some common symptoms include:
- Pain and discomfort
If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor or healthcare professional for advice, as you may need a course of antibiotics (tablets or cream) to treat the skin infection before it becomes more serious.
Wash your hands:
Wash your hands: Skin infections are highly contagious, so remember to wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
Bathe or shower regularly:
Infections can occur anywhere on your skin. Wash regularly and thoroughly to remove any harmful germs and bacteria.
Changing quickly out of wet, sweaty clothes and dry yourself fully to help reduce the chances of fungal skin infections. Also remember to wear flip flops in communal changing rooms or shower areas.
Germs can easily infect cuts and grazes so if you’ve been injured, clean the wound and apply an antiseptic to kill any germs that might be remaining then cover it to stop dirt and germs gaining further access.
Myths and Truths
Q. Only athletes can get athlete's foot
Not true. Athletes foot got its name because the fungus that causes the infection tends to lurk in places athletes use such as locker rooms, showers and gyms. However, anyone who is exposed to the fungus can be infected, not just athletes.