Common skin infections

Published on 4th January 2019



There are two types of herpes simplex viruses: herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2).

HSV-1 usually causes cold sores and HSV-2 genital sores, but there is some overlap. Most of the time HSV-1 and cold sores are mostly a nuisance, but in those who have a poor immune function, a generalised infection may develop which is very serious.

Another herpes virus that can lead to skin problems is chickenpox. People who had chickenpox as children are at risk of later developing shingles. The rash of shingles is usually present in one "dermatome" or region of the body supplied by a nerve. For this reason, it is often located on only one side of the body but may occur nearly everywhere.

Shingles often cause pain before a rash appears, and the pain can be quite intense. Thankfully, prompt treatment with antivirals at the onset of the rash can reduce the amount of pain.


Dermatitis simply means "inflammation of the skin." Yet the term tends to be used for more specific conditions.

Some more common types of dermatitis include:

Contact dermatitis - This type of dermatitis has been experienced by nearly everyone, and refers to redness or a rash on the skin in response to contact with specific substances. There are nearly 3000 substances which have been found to cause irritant contact dermatitis, ranging from strong acids or bases to the lotions that are used for dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis refers to the dryness and scaly skin that we call cradle cap in babies.

Nappy dermatitis is commonly known as nappy rash.

Stasis dermatitis is the reddish blue rash often seen on the lower legs of those who have severe varicose veins and swelling of their ankles.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema, and it is caused by an abnormal response to the body's immune system. The term "atopic" or "atopy" is used to describe a group of diseases that commonly occur together and runs in families. These diseases are asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), and atopic dermatitis. The diagnosis of atopic dermatitis is made by looking at a number of major and minor features associated with the disease.

The cause of atopic dermatitis is hotly debated. Several factors play a role in the disease such as "leaky skin," abnormalities in several specific cells in the immune system, allergies, and higher sensitivity to chemicals and clothing. But so far the cause has not been narrowed to one particular factor.

Treatment is usually accomplished with a combination of several measures including good eczema skin care, and either or both topical and oral eczema medications.

You can find more information on the skin here 



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