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Skin Infections

Skin is the largest organ of the body and its function is to protect the body from infection. However, sometimes the skin may get infected owing to a break in the skin surface caused by a scratch or cut. Skin infections cause inflammation of the skin. Depending upon the type of causative organism skin infections is classified into four types.

  • Bacterial infection: Leprosy, Cellulitis, impetigo, staphylococcal infection
  • Viral infection: Shingles, warts, and herpes simplex
  • Fungal infection: Athlete’s foot and yeast infections
  • Parasitic infection: Scabies

People who have diabetes or decreased immune function due to infection or drugs are highly prone to acquire skin infection. People who wear sweaty and wet clothes are at a risk of getting fungal infections as fungi grow in moist and warm environment.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms depend on the type and severity of infection. Common symptoms of skin infection include:

  1. Skin Rash
  2. Redness of the skin
  3. Itching
  4. Burning sensation
  5. Tenderness

 If the skin infection becomes severe, it may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Pus
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Blisters
  • Skin sloughing, breakdown
  • Dark and thick skin or discolored and painful skin


Most skin infections can be identified by the physician based on the appearance and location of the skin rashes. However, diagnostic tests are required to in order to confirm the causative organism.

  • Bacterial Culture: A sample of the infected skin is scraped out and cultured in a medium which allows growth of infection causing organism only. Gram stain may be used to allow better examination for bacterial growth. The culture reports are usually available within 24-48 hours.
  • Fungal culture: This is done when fungal infection is observed. Fungi are usually slow growing and culture reports can be obtained only after a few weeks.
  • (Acid Fast Bacilli) AFB culture: This test is done when tuberculous bacteria are suspected to have caused the skin lesion. This bacterium is slow growing, and it may take weeks for identifying the bacteria.
  • Blood culture: This test is done to find out if the infection has spread to the blood.
  • Antimicrobial sensitivity: This test is done to find out the antibiotics which would be most favorable to control the specific skin infection.
  • Wood light test: It is done when bacterial or fungal infections are suspected. In this test skin is illuminated with UV light. Certain bacteria and fungi (if present) glow in UV light.
  • Tzanck testing: It is done when viral infections caused by herpes simplex and herpes zoster are the suspected cause for skin infection. Infection caused by herpes simplex and herpes zoster cause blisters. In this test the blister is scraped to obtain the fluid. The blister fluid is stained and then examined under a microscope to detect the presence of microbes.
  • Potassium hydroxide test: It is a rapid test to determine fungal infection. Scraped skin from infected area is treated with potassium hydroxide and examined under a microscope.


Depending upon the nature of causative organism antibacterial, antviral or anti-fungal drugs are used for treatment. Few viral infections get cured on their own after few weeks. Antibacterial drugs are usually given topically, orally and intravenously (if infection is severe). Antifungal medication are usually administered on the skin.

Home remedies: Certain measures can help in relieving the discomfort caused due to skin infection:

  • Loose clothing: Keep clothing off the skin surface prevents skin irritation.
  • Clean the wounded area: The wounded area should be cleaned regularly with a mild soap and water until it heals. Dry the area after cleaning.
  • Cold compress: It should be used to reduce itching and inflammation.
  • Tomatoes: A piece of tomato can be kept on infected area as it contains lycopene which is anti-inflammatory.
  • Aloe vera: Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties. Its gel can be applied on infected area for its soothing and cooling effect.
  • Apple cider vinegar: It reduces skin irritation. Soak the infected area in a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar to reduce skin irritation.


The following measures are useful to prevent skin infection:

  • Clean the skin every day with a mild soap
  • Until the wounds heal, clean them regularly
  • Keep wounds and sores covered with a bandage or gauge
  • Don’t share personal accessories like razors and combs

Why Apollo Diagnostics?

We have the expertise of 34 + years in healthcare. Our labs are equipped with EQUAS (External Quality Assurance System) and loaded with full-automated machines to ensure error free reports, with a quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price. For your convenience, we offer free home collection of samples.

For appointments, please call 4444 2424.


  1. Is your incision infected?. Accessed on 27-Oct-2017.
  2. Skin Infection: Types, Causes, and Treatment. Accessed on 27-Oct-2017.
  3. Skin infections. Accessed on 27-Oct-2017. Accessed on 27-Oct-2017.
  4. Diagnosis of skin infection. Accessed on 27-Oct-2017.
  5. Diagnosis of skin disorders. Accessed on 27-Oct-2017.
  6. Wound and skin infections. Accessed on 27-Oct-2017.

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