A boil, also known as a furuncle, is a painful, pus-filled bump that results from a bacterial infection of the hair follicle. It is a common skin infection, typically caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. The infection usually starts as a tender, pinkish-red, bump which fills with pus- becoming larger and more painful. The boil can rupture and subsequently drain. Treatment options include warm compresses, incision and drainage, as well as topical and/or oral antibiotics.
Candidiasis is an infection caused by the yeast Candida. Candida skin infections (cutaneous candidiasis) can occur at any site, but tends to favor warm, damp environments such as the skin folds and the groin region. Candida infections can also occur in the mouth (oral thrush) and in or around the nails (paronychia or onychomycosis). Young children, the elderly, diabetics, and patients using certain medications (antibiotics, steroids, chemotherapy agents) are at increased risk for candida infections. Infections of the skin typically cause a red, itchy rash. Pustules and satellite lesions (smaller lesions near the edges of the skin rash) are often noted. Candidiasis can be treated with topical and/or oral antifungals.
Cellulitis is a common bacterial infection of the deeper structures of the skin. The infection presents as a focal area of redness, swelling, and pain which is warm to the touch. These skin findings can be accompanied with fevers, chills, fatigue, and malaise. Cellulitis can affect any part of the body, but is common on the lower legs for adults and on the face for children. Because the infection can spread and become life-threatening, prompt diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics is important.
Gential herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of the herpes simplex virus- herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Either type can cause genital herpes, but HSV-2 is responsible for most cases. Affected individuals suffer from recurrent bouts of itchy and/or painful blisters typically on or around the genitals or anus. Blisters can also develop on other parts of the body such as the buttocks, hips, and thighs. The blisters typically pop, develop into open sores, and then crust and heal over. While infection with the herpes virus is life-long, there are oral antiviral medications which can be taken to speed the healing and control or prevent outbreaks.
Impetigo is a common bacterial skin infection that typically affects young children. It is most often caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes. Affected individuals present with sores that break open leading to honey-colored crusts and scabs. Though lesions can be found anywhere, the face (around the nose and mouth) and extremities (hands and feet) are favored locations. The condition can be self-limited and resolve without therapy, but treatment with topical and oral antibiotics is recommended due to the highly contagious nature of the infection.
Lice are tiny insects that live on human hair and clothing fibers and can be seen with the naked eye. These tiny bugs attach to the hair and feed on human blood, causing intense itching in the affected areas. People can suffer from 3 different types of infestation: head lice (pediculosis capitis), body lice (pediculosis corporis), or pubic lice (pediculosis pubis). Lice can be passed on from person to person from hair-to-hair contact or shared objects (hats, combs, brushes, towels, pillowcases, etc). Various over-the-counter as well as prescription treatments are available. Treating the home and cleaning brushes, combs, bedding, towels, helmets, hats, etc is also necessary to avoid further infestation.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick (commonly the deer tick). Early symptoms may include fever, chills, fatigue, headache, body aches, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. Erythema migrans starts as a small red spot at the site of the tick bite which then expands and grows over time. An area of clearing can occur resulting in the classic bull’s eye appearance. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body causing joint pain, heart problems (irregular heart beat), neurologic problems, eye inflammation, and liver inflammation. Early diagnosis and treatment with appropriate oral antibiotics is important.
Molluscum, or molluscum contagiosum, is a common viral skin infection caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus (MCV). This benign condition typically presents with pink, round bumps with a central indentation. The number of bumps can range in number (few to hundreds) and in size (1-6mm). The bumps can appear anywhere on the skin but prefer warm and damp environments such as: armpits, area behind the knees, crooks of the arms, and groin area. Molluscum contagiosum most frequently affects young children between the ages of 1 and 10. In teenagers and adults, molluscum most frequently presents as a sexually transmitted infection with lesions noted in the groin region. The condition is self limited, with lesions resolving on their own even without treatment. Resolution can take months to years. Treatment options are available including topical therapies and cryotherapy (treatment with liquid nitrogen).
Herpes Simplex Labialis, Cold Sores, Fever Blisters
A cold sore is a blister or a cluster of blisters that typically form on or around the lips and mouth. Affected people can experience recurrent bouts of blister outbreaks, often triggered by sun exposure, hormonal fluctuations, stress, illness, or injury. The condition is caused by an infection by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of the herpes simplex virus, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), both of which can cause blisters and sores on any parts of the body. Classically, HSV-1 is thought to be the main culprit for causing cold sores. Infection by the virus is extremely common as the virus is highly contagious. The virus can spread through saliva, skin to skin contact, or by touching a contaminated surface. While there is no cure, topical and oral treatments are available to speed healing and also to prevent or control outbreaks.
Scabies is an intensely itchy rash caused by an infestation with a burrowing mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. Infected individuals develop pink papules, excoriations, nodules, and burrows (thread like tracks in the skin). These findings mainly affect the hands, wrists, axillae (armpits), feet, waistline, and genitalia. It is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies and may also be spread through sharing bedding, clothing, or towels with an infected person. Scabies can be treated with topical and/or oral medications. Additionally, washing bedding, clothing, and towels and vacuuming furniture and carpets are recommended to eradicate the mite.
Shingles is a rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus (also known as the varicella zoster virus or VZV). Classically, the rash affects only one side of the body, within a single stripe or band known as a dermatome. There may be a prodrome consisting of pain, itching, or tingling localized to the area before the rash appears. This is followed by the development of a painful rash and blisters. Over the course of 7-10 days, the blisters rupture, scab, and crust over. Though the rash may completely resolve in 2-3 weeks, some individuals continue to experience nerve pain in the affected area that can last for months to years (known as postherpetic neuralgia). Older individuals and those with a weakened immune system may be more vulnerable to getting shingles. Although there is no cure, vaccines and oral antiviral medications are available to prevent the disease and lessen the discomfort and symptoms.
Tinea refers to a group of fungal infections which can affect the skin, hair, and nails. The specific name of the infection depends on the affected area of the body.
A few common examples include:
- tinea capitis (infection of the scalp/head) - often referred to as ringworm
- tinea corporis (infection of the body) - often referred to as ringworm
- tinea cruris (infection of the groin) - often referred to as jock itch
- tinea pedis (infection of the feet) - often referred to as athlete’s foot
- tinea unguium (infection of the nails) - this is also often called onychomycosis
The infection frequently presents as an itchy, red, round to ring shaped rash, classically with scaly edges. In the scalp, it is frequently associated with hair loss and enlarged lymph nodes. Infected nails can appear yellowed and thickened. Small localized areas on the trunk and extremities can be treated with topical antifungals. However, oral antifungal therapy is usually required if the infection involves the hair follicle (tinea capitis) or nails (tinea unguium/onychomycosis).
Tinea versicolor, also called pityriasis versicolor, is a common skin infection caused by the overgrowth of a yeast. Typically, it presents as patchy areas of lighter or darker discoloration on the trunk and shoulders that can be scaly in appearance. It can affect anyone, but is more common in teens and young adults. Though the condition can be easily treated with topical and/or oral antifungals, the discoloration can persist for months despite treatment. Recurrence during the warm and hot months of the year is also very common.
Warts are non-cancerous, benign growths on the skin that are caused by infection from viruses known as human papillomavirus (HPV). The most common type of warts include: common warts, plantar warts (warts that appear on the soles of the feet), flat warts, and genital warts. Warts can present as rough, raised, hard bumps with tiny black dots or cauliflower like growths. Warts are highly contagious and can easily spread by direct skin to skin contact or through contact with a contaminated object. Young children or people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for getting warts. Various treatment options for warts are available, ranging from at home remedies to treatments done in a doctor’s office.