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Skin Infections

The skin is the largest organ in the body. Its primary functions is to act as a barrier against infection, injury and ultraviolet radiation. Skin infections are caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites or viruses that invade the skin and cause symptoms such as redness, swelling, pain and itching. The most common types of skin infections include impetigo, cellulitis, ringworm and athlete’s foot.

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deeper layers of the skin. The infection spreads from the surface of the skin into the deeper layers causing redness, swelling and heat and can permanently damage the skin. However, cellulitis can also develop from an infection developed during any skin surgery.

Cold sores are small, fluid-filled blisters that can appear around the mouth or nose. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus and can be painful and itchy.  Symptoms may include burning or tingling at the site of infection before blisters appear. The virus is contagious and can spread from person to person through direct contact with an affected area or through sharing items such as silverware, towels, razors and lip balms. Cold sores usually heal on their own within two weeks, but antiviral medications may be prescribed to help reduce symptoms and speed up healing time.

Folliculitis is inflammation of the hair follicles due to an infection with staphylococcus bacteria or a fungus. It is common in people with acne and shaving increases the risk of folliculitis. Often it resolves without treatment, but severe infection can cause permanent hair loss. It can affect any part of the body that has hair including the head, neck, trunk, buttocks, arms and legs.

Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection caused by staphylococcus bacteria that usually affects young children but can affect adults as well. It causes scabby, yellow, crusted sores and small blisters filled with an itchy rash with pus or honey-colored crusts. the lesions itch and are painful. Scratching spreads the infection.

Some skin infections may be caused by parasites such as mites, lice, scabies or ticks which can cause allergic reactions and other symptoms such as itchiness, rash and bumps. A common parasitic skin infection is Demodex mites that live in the hair follicles and play a role in the development of rosacea. Parasitic skin infections are usually treated with antibiotics, topical creams or ointments.

Ringworm is a fungal infection that appears as a reddish scaly raised area on the skin or scalp often in the shape of a ring. It spreads easily from skin-to-skin contact and also from an infected dog or cat, and objects such as a shower stall or locker room floor. It is easy to diagnose due to its circular shaped rash. It can affect feet (athlete’s foot), groin (Jock itch), scalp mostly in children, hands, toenails and fingernails. If not properly treated it can lead to bacterial infections and dermatitis.

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After having chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the body for years and cause shingles when reactivated. Symptoms of shingles include a painful rash with blisters that typically appear on one side of the body or face. Other symptoms may include headache, fever, fatigue and sensitivity to light.

Skin infections can range from mild to severe and should be treated promptly as they can potentially lead to more serious complications if left untreated. It’s important to consult Dr. Shagalov if you suspect you have a skin infection so it can be properly diagnosed and treated.

Contact Dr. Devorah Shagalov at her Miami office to schedule a consultation. Dr. Shagalov is a board-certified dermatologist and a dual fellowship trained Mohs Surgeon and cosmetic dermatologist. Biscayne Dermatology is located in Midtown Miami on the border of Edgewater and Wynwood a few blocks from the Design District, Miami Beach, and Downtown Miami.

At a Glance

Dr. Devorah Shagalov

  • Double Board-Certified Dermatologist
  • Fellowship-Trained Mohs Micrographic Surgeon
  • Recipient of numerous dermatology awards
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