One of the main functions of our skin is to prevent bugs from entering our body, but being in direct contact with the outside world does make our skin susceptible to various infections. Most skin infections are caused by bacterial, fungal or viral bugs. Scabies mites can cause an infestation of the skin that can cause extreme itching.
The most common bacterial infection is impetigo or school sores. Antibiotic ointment or tablets are often required to clear this condition. Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deeper layers of the skin that most commonly occurs on the legs.
The most common viral infection of the skin is the cold sore that is caused by the herpes simplex virus. This virus can also cause genital herpes and can sometimes even occur on other parts of the body. Varicella Zoster is the virus that causes chicken pox in kids and shingles in adults. While chicken pox is becoming rarer thanks to effective vaccines, shingles is still a significant problem for elderly people. Shingles is often a very painful rash that affects only one side of the body or face. Early treatment with antiviral medications is key to managing this problem. The pain of shingles can often last much longer than the rash and specific pain medications may be required to help with this.
Lastly, fungal infections, especially on the nails (onychomycosis) is a common dermatological problem. Over the counter treatments can have variable results for fungal nail infections and tablets are often required to clear the condition. Fungal infections of the skin, mainly tinea (ringworm), also sometimes requires tablets. Fungal infections can also affect the scalp causing hair loss and topical treatments often need to be combined with tablets to clear the condition.