Bacterial skin infections are caused by the presence or the growth of bacteria on broken skin and on wounds. Bacteria, such as certain strains of Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium spp., Brevibacterium spp and Acinetobacter, thrive on normal skin. These are usually safe and harmless. Propionibacteria live in the hair follicles of adults and may cause acne. Some bacteria infects normal skin and broken skin through inflamed skin and wounds. Bacteria, similar to viruses, may cause rashes which, in turn, may cause discomfort to those who are infected.

Common Bacterial Infections

The human skin is host to different species of bacteria, most of which are actually beneficial. Skin infections from these bacteria are caused by the weakening of the immune system or when skin breaks down. The usual bacterial skin infections are:

  • Impetigo (blisters filled with fluid, accompanied by lesions on the face)
  • Follicultis (the inflammation of hair follicles, pimple-like blisters filled with pus)
  • Abscess (Blisters filled with pus)
  • Erysipelas (redness accompanied by swollen and painful regions on the face or the legs)

Causes

Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, are common causes of bacterial skin infections. They cause several known ailments from rashes and boils to possibly life threatening disorders such as necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) and erythma mariginatum (a symptom of Rheumatic fever). Some of this bacteria can come from animals such as rats and cats (the bacteria in cat saliva can cause rashes to appear on human skin).

Risks

Bacterial skin infections can affect anybody regardless of one’s age. Most of these bacterial infections occur on open wounds. People with certain medical conditions have greater chances of contracting bacterial skin infections. People with diabetes and with poor blood circulation have a difficult time keeping their white blood cells fighting these bacteria. People with HIV/AIDS, as well, are very susceptible to bacterial skin infection because of their weakened immune systems caused by AIDS.

Prevention and Cure

As always, prevention is better than cure. Good personal hygiene and proper treatment of wounds are good ways to prevent bacteria from infecting the skin. The hands touch many different things throughout the day, meaning they are constantly exposed to bacteria. Proper hand-washing is also very important in the prevention of skin disorders. A clean environment also helps in the prevention of bacterial skin infections. Regular cleaning of living and working space may also prevent bacterial infection. If a person is infected, it is imperative to wash any clothes and fabrics that have come in contact with the infected area, so that the bacteria does not spread from person to person. When one is infected, it is best to see a doctor.