The skin, called the integumentary system, is the body’s first line of defense. It establishes a barrier between the environment and the body fluids, muscles, organs and tissues that make up the human body. Being exposed and being constantly attacked by rubbing, rubbing and lacerations, skin infections are one of the main causes of medical consultation worldwide.

Causes of skin infections

The skin is inhabited by billions of groups of bacteria that live in it in perfect harmony. However, any alteration in the number of one of these bacterial groups, or a break in the outermost layers, can cause bacteria that were in harmony to grow and reproduce, infecting the area.

Similarly, harmful and dangerous bacteria can be collected by contact with a contaminated surface or object, which will take advantage of any wound to infect the area.

Types of skin infections

Depending on the type of microorganism that infects the cells of the dermis, infections can be classified into three groups.

1. Bacterial skin infections

They are all infections that are caused by the growth of one or more classes of bacteria in any of the three layers of the dermis.

These represent the largest number of reported cases, the causative bacteria are usually staphylococci and streptococci.

2. Fungal or fungal infections of the skin

They are all infections caused by fungi and spores, which invade and multiply.

3. Viral skin infections

Viruses also penetrate cells in the dermis and cause infections.

How do bacterial skin infections manifest?

The mode of presentation of bacterial infections of the dermis, usually begins as a redness and increase in volume of the affected area, followed by an increase in temperature and pain. If not treated properly, its extension will increase, being able to generate abscesses and, if it persists, an affectation of the whole organism, called sepsis.

What are the most common bacterial skin infections?

  • Abscesses

Inflammation and increase in volume, produced by an accumulation of pus, which is caused by destruction of the tissue in the compromised area.

  • Impetigo.

It is the infection of the outermost layer of the dermis called the epidermis, it is highly contagious and usually occurs more frequently in children between 2 and 5 years old, it is associated with inadequate personal hygiene.

  • Ecthyma.

It is similar to impetigo, but bacteria invade the two outermost layers of the dermis, called the epidermis and the dermis respectively. In other words, the infection deepens into the tissues.

  • Folliculitis.

As its name implies, it involves the bacterial infection of various hair follicles (the place where body hair or skin hair is born).

  • Boils

It is the infection of a hair follicle that obstructs the sebaceous gland, causes a marked increase in volume or swelling due to the accumulation of pus inside it.

  • Hydrosadenitis.

It is the infection of more than two pilosebaceous follicles and apocrine glands, or simply put, it means that they are several contiguous or neighboring boils.

  • Elisipela.

It is considered a superficial cellulitis, that is, it is the infection of the outermost layer called the epidermis.

  •  Cellulitis

Infection of the deeper layers called the hypodermis, which progresses rapidly when not properly treated.

  • Paronychia

Infection of the skin fold (region of skin between the nail and its bed or edges) of the nail that causes an abscess in the area.

Natural treatments for skin infections

Depending on several factors, such as: what is the cause, the person’s immune status, and how soon treatment is started, it is possible that natural treatments or home remedies can cure skin infections . The most popular and most successful remedies are:

Sodium bicarbonate

The ability of bicarbonate to destroy some bacteria is used frequently. A mixture of a tablespoon of bicarbonate with a tablespoon of water is made, mixing them to create a paste, later this is applied on the dermal lesions, with good results.

Lemon and vinegar

Lemon and vinegar have the ability to destroy certain bacteria when they are applied to the affected area, however, the possibility of causing irritation or damage to the dermis is high, since both products are abrasive and can cause dermatitis .


There are anecdotal reports of the use of raw onions on dermal lesions with good results on some infectious skin diseases.

Once you think you have a skin infection, and it has grown in size, becomes painful, or causes discomfort, the first thing to do is visit your health care provider, who will diagnose and treat it appropriately. .

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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