Bacterial infections

People are “hosts” of a plethora of bacteria that colonise the skin and form its natural flora. We speak of infection when bacteria that are not usual dwellers of the skin start to develop. Most common among such bacteria are Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, corynebacteria, E. coli, Propionibacterium, etc. Predisposing factors for development of infections include: Injuries, previous skin disease, bad hygiene, impaired immunity, diabetes, etc. Some fungal infections of the skin resolve on their own but most of them require medical treatment.


We will introduce you to some of the most common bacterial infections that are caused mainly by staphylococceae and streptococceae that are jointly called pyogenic cocci.




Folliculitis is an infection localised within the hair follicle. It is characterised by small pustules surrounded by mild redness. In the middle a thick or thinner hair is centred. Folliculitis develops mainly in areas that are more hairy.

The predisposing factors for Folliculitis include:

- Trauma;

- Chronic friction;

- Tight clothes preventing air circulation;

- Excessive sweating.


“Hot tub” Folliculitis is a variation of the usual Folliculitis caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. People get infected mainly from poorly chlorinated bathtubs, jacuzzis and swimming pools. This infection tends to resolve on its own within ten days. Sometimes, in addition to pustules on the body and the limbs, mild fever and malaise may occur.


Furuncle (Boil)


Furuncle is an infection of the hair follicle, i.e. it is more comprehensive than the Folliculitis and affects also the adjoining sebaceous gland and the adjacent structures. Furuncle development is most common in areas such as the neck, the face, the armpits and the buttocks. It starts as a small, red, warm node that becomes very painful and softens in several days. Most common favourable conditions that promote development of Furuncle include obesity, diabetes, bad hygiene, impaired immunity, etc.




In general, Carbuncle can be described as clusters of grouped and adjacent furuncles. Sometimes, this infection may also affect the deeper layers of the skin. Mild forms of Folliculitis and small furuncles often resolve on their own, assisted by good hygiene of the affected areas. Large boils and carbuncles require the use of antibiotics, special treatment of the infected areas and sometimes hospital treatment.




Impetigo is a common surface bacterial infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes or a combination of both types. This disease is more common during childhood (from 2 to 5 years of age) and is very contagious in general. It develops mainly in skin areas that have been affected by small preceding injuries, insect bites, scratches, herpes, etc. Some people are so-called carriers of staphylococcus in their nose and do not know about that because no infection develops in the nose. When nasal discharge drops on their skin or the skin of another person, infection may occur. Two types of impetigo are known: Impetigo contagiosa (no blisters) and Impetigo bullosa (with blisters).


Impetigo contagiosa:

- It occurs more often and accounts for 70% of all impetigo cases;

- One usual manifestation is the occurrence of yellowish or honey-like crusts;

- It develops mainly on the face and more rarely on the limbs;

- Usually, there are no symptoms. Rarely, mild itching may occur and, if the patient is affected more severely, pain may be experienced;

- It resolves without leaving scars.


Impetigo bullosa:

- A more rare variation of impetigo;

- It occurs mainly in infants and young children;

- Blisters are caused by a toxin released by a specific variation of Staphylococcus aureus;

- It develops on the face, the body, the hands and the buttocks;

- It does not cause fever;

- It resolves without leaving scars.


Erysipelas (Saint Anthony's fire)


Erysipelas is a surface infection of the skin, which often also affects the lymphatic system. The most common cause of this infection is the so-called beta hemolytic streptococcus of Group A. This infection is localised mainly on the lower limbs and, on more rare occasions, on the face. Sometimes, the cause for infection is clear: trauma, fungal infections, a problem affecting the blood vessels, but in some cases it remains unknown. Risk factors for Erysipelas include diabetes, alcoholism, obesity, traumas and venous insufficiency. Usually, the disease begins with flu-like symptoms – fever, chills weakness, headache. Later, clearly defined, slightly raised, shiny, warm and severely red plaque develops. The adjacent lymph nodes are often swollen.


Treatment with antibiotics must be administered, the affected area should be kept at rest and antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent possible relapse should be prescribed.

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