What are Bacterial Skin Infections?

Bacterial skin infections are common skin conditions that can range from a minor infection to a life threatening condition if not treated early on. More than 200 species of bacteria live on our skin, many of which are important to our health and survival. However, Staphylococcus aureus and a form of Streptococcus bacteria are among the types that can be harmful if they breach the barriers of the skin. The skin is designed to provide a shield against bacterial infections. But, when there is a break in the skin such as a cut, puncture, or burn, bacteria is easily able to enter the body and cause damage.

Common Types of Bacterial Skin Infections


Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deeper layers of the dermis. It usually begins as a small rash than rapidly swells. Cellulitis is often accompanied by fever and chills. If left untreated, Cellulitis can spread through the bloodstream and become deadly.


This skin infection is the superficial form of cellulitis that affects the upper layers of the dermis. The symptoms and causes of erysipelas are similar to cellulitis but the infection often occurs in areas where the lymphatic system is blocked.


This is a highly contagious skin infection that affects the epidermal layers of the skin. Impetigo can be easily spread through direct contact with an infected person or by touching an infected article of clothing or linen such as a towel. Impetigo usually appears around the mouth, nose, or areas of the skin that are often exposed. It can appear as red blisters or yellow-crusted lesions.


Similar to pimples in appearance, folliculitis is a pus filled blister that infects the hair follicle. It can occur on any part of the body that has hair and is usually brought on by excessive sweating, friction caused by tight clothing, or ingrown hairs as a result of shaving.


A furuncle or boil infects multiple hair follicles as well as surrounding tissue. Furuncles usually start off as red blisters than eventually transform into pustules that can increase to the size of a golf ball. In many cases different bacterial skin infections can have similar symptoms; therefore, it is important to consult with a skin treatment specialist to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. This is especially crucial in dealing with bacterial skin infections that are contagious. By visiting a specialist early on, you reduce your risk of contaminating other people and spreading the infection to other areas of the body.

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