Infection of the skin is distinguished from dermatitis, which is inflammation of the skin, but a skin infection can result in skin inflammation. Skin inflammation due to skin infection is called infective dermatitis.
A bacterial infection is a proliferation of a harmful strain of bacteria on or inside the body. Bacteria can infect any area of the body. Pneumonia, meningitis, and food poisoning are just a few illnesses that may be caused by harmful bacteria. Bacteria come in three basic shapes: rod-shaped (bacilli), spherical (cocci), or helical (spirilla). Bacteria may also be classified as gram-positive or gram-negative. Gram-positive bacteria have a thick cell wall while gram-negative bacteria do not. Gram staining, bacterial culture with antibiotic sensitivity determination, and other tests are used to identify bacterial strains and help determine the appropriate course of treatment.
There are many viral skin infections. They range from the common to the rare, from the mild to the severe and from those causing just skin infection to those with associated systemic disease.
Fungal infections of the skin are very common and include athlete's foot, jock itch, ringworm, and yeast infections. Ringworm is a fungal skin infection that causes a red, circular, itchy rash. Ringworm is officially known as tinea or dermatophytosis. Ringworm is referred to by other names depending on the part of the body that is affected. For example, fungal infection of the feet is athlete's foot or tinea pedia.