Skin Infections and Parasites

Skin infections and parasites are common reasons why people may visit their dermatologist. Different types exist – some are minor and get better with no or minimal intervention, whereas others can make you feel quite unwell.

Boils and abscesses

Boils or furuncles – small collections of pus around a hair follicle – are fairly common and often referred to as folliculitis. A larger collection of pus is called an abscess. They can appear for no apparent reason but are more common if you have reduced immunity, perhaps due to taking steroid drugs or HIV infection, or if you have diabetes. Boils and abscesses may result from a minor skin infection, but see your skin specialist for further assessment when your boil or abscess doesn’t quickly settle after few days. You may need some doses of antibiotics or, in the case of an abscess, a little cut and drainage of any pus.


A more widespread skin infection that doesn’t lead to collections of pus is known as cellulitis. Primarily, cellulitis most likely develops on legs, although it can affect any area of your body – a special type of cellulitis called erysipelas occurs when you get cellulitis on the face (usually on your cheeks). The severity of cellulitis can vary and ranges from a mild localised skin infection to a serious infection that affects larger areas of your skin and makes you quite unwell.

Cellulitis can develop where bacteria enter your skin and tissues just below your skin through a cut or a graze – which needs only to be tiny – but sometimes it can appear without any obvious underlying cause. Below mentioned circumstances make this infection more likely:

  • You suffer from athlete’s foot – a common, mild fungal infection that often causes small and usually itchy cracks in the skin between your toes. Check the skin between your toes frequently, particularly if you have inflamed legs, you’re obese or you have diabetes and the sensation in your feet is reduced.
  • You have other broken areas of skin (such as cuts, sores, ulcers, insect bites, scratches or any other injuries) anywhere on your leg. Moreover, injecting drugs into your legs also puts you at greater risk of getting a skin infection.
  • Your legs are swollen for any reason.
  • You have a unrelenting skin condition such as eczema, which makes your skin dry or more prone to infection.
  • You suffer from diabetes – particularly if your blood sugar levels aren’t well controlled (meaning that they’re too high for too long).
  • You have low immunity, which may be the case if you’re undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or you take steroid drugs, which your doctor may prescribe when you suffer from a chronic inflammatory condition.

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