People who are living with eczema often have to deal with itchy, red skin. Another issue that you have to contend with is being more prone to skin infections. That’s because your skin can be thin or damaged from a flare-up, the medications you use, or prolonged scratching. These infections can cause a lot of trouble if you’re not careful so you need to know what to look out for.
3 Potential Skin Infections
1. Staphylococcus Aureus (Staph.)
Several different bacteria can cause skin infections, however, Staphylococcus aureus is most common because it lives on your skin. When there’s a break in your skin, it’s easy for the bacteria to get inside and multiply.
The initial signs of an infection are itchy, red skin that is slightly shiny. As the infection progresses, you should notice weeping or crusting of the affected areas.
Bacterial infections need to be treated by a doctor. Depending on how far the infection has progressed, you may be prescribed oral or topical antibiotics or a combination of both. While waiting to be treated, you should keep the affected areas clean and don’t share towels or bedding with anyone.
Bacteria aren’t the only microorganisms that exist naturally on your skin. Fungi can be there as well. Two of the likely fungi to cause an infection are candida and mold.
Candida is a yeast that thrives in moist conditions while the mold comes from a form of dermatophytes that can cause ringworms. A fungal infection is usually characterized by a red rash that spreads gradually.
These infections must also be treated with antifungal medication. Typically, these will be topical creams or ointments. While waiting to be treated, you should keep the affected areas dry.
Sometimes, natural remedies such as tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and apple cider vinegar can help to keep the infection from spreading as quickly as well as soothe itchy skin. It’s important to note that no homemade remedies will cure the infection.
3. Herpes simplex
The herpes simplex virus usually causes cold sores in people who don’t have eczema. If you have the skin condition, the virus can spread rapidly and cause a serious issue known as eczema herpeticum. With this infection, you can experience painful areas, which get worse quickly, raise blisters that break open to form sores, and a high temperature.
If you have eczema herpeticum, you should go to the emergency room immediately. This infection will spread and cause multi-organ failure if left untreated.
How To Prevent Them
Hygiene is essential when you need to prevent infections. You’ll need to wash your hands often to keep the microbial load on your hands low and reduce your risk of infection. It’s best to use antibacterial soap for this. If you’ve been prescribed an emollient because your skin is too sensitive for soap, you can use the antibacterial soap first then apply the emollient directly after. When using the emollient, don’t dip your hand into the container as this can introduce microorganisms. Doctors also recommend keeping joints and other areas where the skin folds as dry as possible since moisture encourages the growth of microorganisms.
If you have recurring infections, ask your doctor about using antiseptic creams or washes regularly. These can cut down the number of infections you have. Some people opt for weekly or bi-weekly bleach baths but you need to consult your doctor before attempting this on your own. That’s a critical step because you can’t use household bleach to do it. You need a special sodium hypochlorite solution so you know the exact concentration that you’re using.
Part of living with eczema is taking good care of your skin. While that includes sticking to your medical regimen, you have to be mindful of infections as well. It’s always best to prevent them but if they occur anyway, you need to see a doctor quickly.