Bacterial, Fungal, & Viral Infections of the Skin

The most common bacterial infections of the skin are impetigo and folliculitis. Impetigo is a superficial infection of the skin presenting as red, crusted oozing patches caused by Staph or Strep bacteria. These are very infectious and respond very well to oral and topical antibiotics. Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles caused by Staph aureus bacteria that presents as red, tender pustules and responds well to oral antibiotics. When the infection in a follicle gets deeper and larger you have a boil known as a furuncle that responds to oral antibiotics.

When one of these common infections does not respond to traditionally effective oral antibiotic therapy we must do a culture to determine if the infection is due to MRSA that is a resistant Staph organism that can cause serious infections and can be difficult to treat. As with any medical problem that you have, if the treatment is not effective you should return to your treating physician for a second opinion.

Fungal infections of the skin usually appear as red, scaly patches often in a ring shape. This appearance has given rise to the misnomer ringworm as they have nothing to do with worms. The most common areas for fungal infections are the feet known as athlete's foot or medically as tinea pedis, the groin known as jock itch or medically as tinea cruris, and on the body called ringworm or medically tinea corporis. The treatment is usually with a prescription cream and occasionally a prescription pill as well. Another very common fungal infection of the skin is called Tinea versicolor. With this condition the patients develop pink, whitish, or brownish flat scaly patches usually on the trunk that are effectively treated with antifungal pills, creams, and shampoos.

Two of the most common viral infections of the skin are warts and molluscum. Warts may occur anywhere and are dry with a cauliflower like surface. Molluscum contagiosum occurs more commonly in children and they look like firm pimples. Both warts and Molluscum can be treated with liquid nitrogen or topical preparations. Unfortunately successful treatment cannot be guaranteed and multiple treatments are often needed.