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Skin Infections

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Learn about types of bacterial, fungal, and viral skin infections.

Bacterial Skin Infections

Leprosy is caused by a slow-growing type of bacteria called Mycobacteriumleprae (M. leprae). Leprosy is also known as Hansen's disease, after the scientist who discovered M. leprae in 1873.

A carbuncle is a red, swollen, and painful cluster of boils that are connected to each other under the skin.

The infection often begins with a little cut, which gets infected with bacteria. These staph infections range from a simple boil to antibiotic-resistant infections to flesh-eating infections.

Cellulitis is a common infection of the skin and the soft tissues underneath. It happens when bacteria enter a break in the skin and spread.

Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection. It can appear anywhere on the body but usually attacks exposed areas.

A boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. At first, the skin turns red in the area of the infection, and a tender lump develops. After four to seven days, the lump starts turning white as pus collects under the skin.

A pilonidal cyst occurs at the bottom of the tailbone (coccyx) and can become infected and filled with pus. Once infected, the technical term is pilonidal abscess.

Fungal Skin Infections

Fungal infections of the skin are very common and include athlete's foot, jock itch, ringworm, and yeast infections.

Worms don't cause ringworm. Rather, this superficial skin infection, also known as tinea, is caused by fungi called dermatophytes.

Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection and you don't have to be an athlete to get it. This annoying ailment occurs in boys, girls, men, and women of all ages.

Candidiasis is an infection caused by a group of yeast. There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi live on all surfaces of our bodies.

This fungus is related more closely to the mold on stale bread or the yeast used to brew beer than to bacteria that usually cause infections. The mold is found on rose thorns, hay, sphagnum moss, twigs, and soil. Therefore, the infection is more common among gardeners who work with roses, moss, hay, and soil.

A fungal nail infection occurs when a fungus attacks a fingernail, a toenail, or the skin under the nail, called the nail bed.

Viral Skin Infections

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that causes either single or multiple raised, pearl-like bumps (papules) on the skin.

Shingles (herpes zoster) results from a reactivation of the virus that also causes chickenpox.

Chickenpox (varicella), a viral illness characterized by a very itchy red rash, is one of the most common infectious diseases of childhood.

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