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The symptoms of a skin infection also vary depending on the type. Common symptoms include redness of the skin and a rash. You may also experience other symptoms, such as itching, pain, and tenderness.

A skin infection happens when parasites, fungi, or germs such as bacteria penetrate the skin and spread. When this happens, it can cause pain, swelling, other types of discomfort, and skin color changes. A skin infection may be mild or serious.

Skin infections are different from rashes. A rash is an area of swollen or irritated skin. While rashes can be symptoms of some skin infections, a person with a rash does not necessarily have an infection.

What are causes and risk factors for a skin infection?

The cause of a skin infection depends on the type of infection.

Bacterial skin infection: This occurs when bacteria enter the body through a break in the skin, such as a cut or a scratch. Getting a cut or scratch doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop a skin infection, but it does increase your risk if you have a weakened immune system.

A decreased immune system can be the result of an illness or the side effect of medication.

Parasitic skin infection: Tiny insects or organisms burrowing underneath your skin and laying eggs can reason a parasitic skin infection.

Viral skin infection: The most common viruses come from one of three groups of viruses: poxvirus, human papillomavirus, and herpes virus.

Fungal infection: Body chemistry and lifestyle can increase the risk of a fungal infection. For example, you may experience multiple bouts of athlete’s foot if you’re a runner or if you sweat a lot. Fungi often grow in warm, moist environments. Wearing sweaty or wet clothes is a risk factor for skin infections. A break or cut in the skin may allow bacteria to get into the deeper layers of the skin.

How Does Your Skin Get Infected?

A tiny cut is all it takes to provide an invading microorganism entry into your skin. Often this is how a skin infection takes root. Sometime the cut is not so tiny, like after you’ve had surgery. In any case, your skin is more vulnerable to infections when it has been broken in some way.

Infections generally come from one of three main causes: bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Yeasts and parasites can cause them, too. Many of these are harmless on the surface of your skin, and bacteria in particular are plentiful on all human skin. But when they enter a break in the skin, trouble can start. Sometimes a break in the skin isn’t necessary, and sometimes a microorganism invader gains an upper hand because your immune system is weak, or is misdirected into attacking the wrong things.

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