Overview of Cellulitis and Other Skin Infections

May 7th 2016

Cellulitis, boils and impetigo infections must always be taken seriously, as complications may arise if staphylococcus bacteria penetrates the deeper layers of the skin or surrounding tissues. Individuals who suspect they may have a bacterial skin infection can lower the risk of secondary infections and complications by seeking immediate medical attention.

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin that typically causes severe pain and tends to spread quickly. Risk factors for developing cellulitis include intravenous drug use, chronic skin conditions that weaken the skin surface, fungal skin infections and lowered immunity. Symptoms of cellulitis include warm or inflamed skin, swelling, and skin tenderness.

If left untreated, cellulitis can spread to the blood and become life-threatening, so it is imperative that individuals who suspect a cellulitis infection seek immediate medical attention. The condition is commonly treated with antibiotics and can often be prevented by keeping the skin clean and moisturized.

Boils

A boil is a painful skin infection that occurs when bacteria enter the skin and infect the underlying oil glands or hair follicles. The first symptom of a boil is a tender, inflamed bump. Within a short period of time, the bump develops a white or yellow head and swells in size. Additional symptoms of skin boils include swollen glands near the affected area, fever and inflammation.

In certain cases, skin boils drain on their own without medical treatment. Large boils that do not open must usually be drained by a medical professional. In either case, it is always best for individuals with boils to consult with a medical professional, as the infection may require antibiotic treatment to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Impetigo

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that commonly affects young children. The infection is transmitted via direct skin contact with open sores or nasal secretions of an infected person. Impetigo infections typically develop on the face and upper body.

Impetigo symptoms typically begin with small red bumps and skin inflammation. Over a short period of time, the bumps become filled with pus and rupture. The open sores then develop a crust that may cause severe itching. Impetigo infections are most often treated with oral antibiotics and antibiotic ointments.

Conclusion

Cellulitis, skin boils and impetigo are bacterial infections that occur when bacteria enter the skin through cuts, scratches, minor abrasions or insect stings and begins to multiply. All three conditions are commonly caused by staphylococcus bacteria, a bacteria that is naturally present on the skin; however, each infection presents with its own unique set of symptoms.

Sources

Healthline.com "Cellulitis" http://www.healthline.com/health/cellulitis#Prevention7
WebMD.com "Boils" http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/boils
Nlm.nih.gov "Boils" http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001474.htm
Niaid.nih.gov "Impetigo" http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/impetigo/Pages/Default.aspx

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