The skin is perhaps is the most pampered part of the human body, a least, for most women. From soaps to lotions to whole body scrubs — women spend thousands of dollars each year just to achieve that smooth, clear, flawless look. They want smoother skin and finer pores. Even if they have to spend a fortune, these women repeatedly go to their favorite salons to get rid of their dark spots, acne scars, and fine lines. Some try all the latest skin treatments hoping that the next one would really make them look whiter and rosier.
While most women visit their dermatologist for purely aesthetic reasons, there is quite a number of women who need medical care for their skin. Skin infections account for many of the visits of women to the local dermatologist.
But what is a skin infection?
A skin infection is an invasion and growth of pathogenic microscopic organisms. The infecting organism or pathogen interferes with the normal functions of the skin. Skin infections can be divided into following classes or types based on the source of infection:
l Fungal – Common types of fungal infection include tineal versicolor, yeast infection, ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot.
l Bacterial – Bacterial infections include folliculitis, furunculosis, impetigo, erysipelas, hidradenitis suppurativa, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, cuts, scrapes, etc.
l Viral – Common viral infections include chicken pox and measles.
Non-pathogenic organisms that normally live on the surface of healthy skin can become pathogenic under certain conditions. Any one who has a break in the skin is at risk of getting a skin infection. Diabetic people are also at greater risk of infection since the poor blood flow to the skin does not allow for faster healing of wounds. Skin damaged by scratching and sunburn can also be exploited by organisms that are actively searching for a host.
It is also important to have information about the microscopic particles that actually cause the infection.
l Virus- a submicroscopic particle consisting of a core of nucleic acid surrounded by protein that can grow and reproduce by infecting other organisms.
l Bacteria – are uni-cellular organisms that come in spherical, rod, and spiral shapes.
l Fungi (fungus) – are heterotrophic organisms that have a cell wall. These organisms were originally considered as plants with no chlorophyll. In general, humans have a high level of innate immunity to fungi and most infections are mild and self-limiting. Humans are usually resistant to certain fungi due to the following reasons:
1. The pH content of the skin, mucosal surfaces and body fluids help prevent fungal infection.
2. The fatty acid content of the skin helps fungi from living on the skin surface.
3. Cilia of respiratory tract helps prevent fungi from entering the body.
The presence of microscopic organisms merely shows that skin care is truly skin-deep. It is not enough to just focus on the smoothness, clearness, or rosiness of skin. The viruses, bacteria, and fungi that are ever-present need to be controlled so as to prevent skin infections that not only ruins a woman’s beauty but also poses health risks.