Bacterial skin infections are a common occurrence in adults and are frequently encountered by primary care healthcare providers in the UK. Some of the most common bacterial skin infections seen in adults include impetigo, cellulitis, folliculitis, and furunculosis.
Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that is caused by either Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. It is characterized by red sores that can break open, ooze fluid, and develop a yellow-brown crust. Impetigo is most commonly seen in children but can also occur in adults. The infection is typically spread through direct contact with an infected person or through contact with contaminated objects such as towels or clothing.
Cellulitis is an infection of the deeper layers of the skin and the subcutaneous tissues. It is most commonly caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. Cellulitis typically presents as an area of redness, swelling, and tenderness on the skin. If left untreated, cellulitis can spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream, potentially leading to serious complications such as sepsis.
Folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles that is typically caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. It presents as small, red bumps or white-headed pimples around hair follicles. Folliculitis can occur anywhere on the body where hair is present, but is most often seen on the face, scalp, and thighs. The infection can be caused by a variety of factors including friction from clothing, blockage of the hair follicle, or shaving.
Furunculosis, also known as boils, are painful, pus-filled bumps that form under the skin as a result of a bacterial infection. Boils are typically caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and occur when hair follicles become infected. Boils can occur anywhere on the body but are most commonly seen on the face, neck, armpits, buttocks, and thighs.
Diagnosis of bacterial skin infections typically involves a physical examination and medical history. In some cases, laboratory tests such as a culture or blood test may be necessary to confirm the presence of a bacterial infection. Imaging tests such as ultrasound or CT scan may also be used to assess for complications such as abscess formation.
Treatment options for bacterial skin infections vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. Mild infections may be treated with topical or oral antibiotics. More severe infections may require intravenous antibiotics or surgical intervention to drain abscesses or remove infected tissue.
Prevention of bacterial skin infections involves good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and avoiding sharing personal items such as towels or razors. Wounds should be kept clean and covered to prevent infection. Individuals with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for developing bacterial skin infections and should take extra precautions to prevent infection.
In conclusion, bacterial skin infections are a common occurrence in adults and are frequently encountered by primary care healthcare providers in the UK. Some of the most common bacterial skin infections seen in adults include impetigo, cellulitis, folliculitis, and furunculosis. Diagnosis involves physical examination and medical history, while treatment options include antibiotics and surgery in severe cases. Prevention involves good hygiene practices and wound care.
If you are a primary care health care provider who works with adults, you may be interested in our article Eight Common Skin Conditions Seen in the Older Adult.
Practitioner Development UK (PDUK) is a leading provider of continuing professional development (CPD) courses for healthcare professionals. We offer a wide range of courses, delivered both as scheduled events and in-house.
- Impetigo. (n.d.). NHS. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/impetigo/
- Cellulitis. (n.d.). NHS. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cellulitis/
- Folliculitis. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/folliculitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20361634
- Boils and carbuncles. (n.d.). NHS. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/boils/