Skin Infections and Diseases: Prevention And Treatment

Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½This article examines common skin ailments such as dermatitis, infections and cancer and offers treatments and preventative measures.The skin, which is the body’s largest organ, is its first line of defense against infections. The classifications of these skin conditions are: dermatitis, bacterial and fungal infections, and cancer.


Dermatitis is a superficial skin inflammation characterized by vesicles, redness, edema (swelling), oozing, crusting, scaling, and itching. Scratching or rubbing can make the condition worse and lead to an infection. Whenever there is a break in the skin, the barrier, the first line of defense is compromised. It is important to keep the skin intact and protect it from cuts and scratches.

Contact Dermatitis:

One type of dermatitis is contact as it is caused primarily by sensitivity to an irritant. The irritants can include: soap, make-up, detergents, and jewelry (usually the nickel in the metal). Other irritants are plants such as poison ivy and oak, and sumac.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis are redness, itching and vesicles. Any exposed skin that comes in contact with the irritant will be affected. Sometimes it is easy to determine the cause. If you have recently changed detergents, that might be the culprit. Relief can be found with corticosteroid creams. Eliminating the offending agent will eliminate the contact dermatitis.


Psoriasis is a common chronic and genetically determined dermatitis. The lesions are pink or red with a silvery scale that is characteristic of this type of dermatitis. The sites most affected are the scalp, knees, elbows, and the sacral area (base of the spine). Joint pain may accompany this disease. Psoriasis is thought to be an autoimmune disease provoked by risk factors such as stress, infections. Topical treatments are preferred if only a small portion of the body is affected.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac:

Poison ivy, oak and sumac are common plants that case a contact dermatitis that is mostly a rash. The sap is what cases the allergic reaction. The rash is itchy, red, burns, swells, and blisters. Prevention is to know and recognize the plants and avoid them.

Within 6 hours of contact, remove clothing, wash skin with soap and water, apply rubbing alcohol to parts of skin that had contact with the plant, and rinse with water. If a rash does develop, calamine lotion, and bathing in lukewarm water with a colloidal oatmeal is helpful. Do not scratch and keep hands away from your face especially the eyes.�¯�¿�½

Fungal Infections:

Superficial infections caused by fungi (dermatophytes) that invade dead tissue of the skin or nails and hair are ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot. These infections are also called tinea. The fungi live on the skin, hair, and nails and thrive in moist warm areas. The lesions are pink to red with acute flare-ups in warm weather due to moisture. Inching and inflammation are symptomatic of a fungal infection. Treatment with an over the counter antifungal preparation is effective.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½


Ringworm develops on the scalp or skin and is called ringworm due to its characteristic ring or series of rings. It appears as a red scaly patch and is very itchy. An antifungal ointment is generally effective. Preventative measures are avoiding using another person’s comb, brush, pillow or hat.

Jock Itch:�¯�¿�½

Jock itch is an itching, chafing, or burning rash in the groin or thigh area. This also can be treated with an antifungal ointment or spray. Prevention is to keep the area dry particularly after swimming, showering, or sweaty activities.

Athlete’s foot:

This skin infection typically affects the areas between the toes. It can spread to the palms of the hands if the affected area is touched. The symptoms are itching, burning, crackin, peeling, blistering, redness and stinging. Treatment is an antifungal ointment generally for a few weeks. Keeping the feet dry is important as a preventative measure as the fungus thrives in moist areas. This is contagious and public showers and pool areas are excellent places to catch it. Wear flip-flops or sandals in locker rooms and keep the area dry.

Bacterial Infections:


Impetigo is an acute bacterial infection with lesions that contain a light, yellow fluid. These vesicles erupt to form a golden crust. This disease is more common in children and is contagious. Causes of this disease include streptococci and staphylococci bacteria. Poor hygiene, tropical climates, and improper sanitation can contribute to the infection. Oral antibiotics are generally proscribed by the physician.

Skin Cancer:
There are three types of skin cancer:
Basal Cell Carcinoma:�¯�¿�½

This type is the most common form of skin cancer accounting for 90%. It almost never metastasizes (spreads). Light colored skin and exposure to the sun are risk factors. It usually appears on the face, scalp, chest, back, and arms. This slow growing cancer begins as a raised “pearly” bump that is translucent. The diagnosis is made by a biopsy where a small amount of tissues is removed and examined. Surgical removal is the standard procedure. Prevention relies upon protecting yourself from sun exposure by wearing sunscreen of at least 30, wearing wide brimmed hats and getting regular check-ups.

Squamous Cell:

This type of cancer affects the surface tissue of the skin and it does metastasize. The number one cause is sun exposure. It begins as a firm red colored nodule. The diagnosis is made by biopsy. Surgical treatment is the preferred method.


Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer beginning in the melanocytes which cluster and form moles. Most people have 10-40 moles that are flat or raised with brown or tan coloring. Cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and multiply. Checking regularly using the ABCD system is strongly recommended.

Asymmetry is when the shape of one half does not match the other half.
Border is ragged and irregular.
Color is uneven with shades of brown, black, and tan.
Diameter changes in size.

The mole may also feel hard, lumpy and be scaly and itch or bleed generally with no pain. Early detection is the key to survival as melanoma metastasizes. Surgical removal and possible chemotherapy or radiation is necessary.

In conclusion, there are other skin diseases and infections. If you have a question regarding you skin, a dermatologist is the doctor to see. The skin is the body’s largest organ and it is necessary to keep it intact to prevent infections. Taking good care of your skin makes good sense. Bathing, moisturizing, use of sunscreen can help you prevent skin related problems.

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