Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.
Information from Your Family Doctor
Skin and Soft Tissue Infections
FREE PREVIEW. AAFP members and paid subscribers: Log in to get free access. All others: Purchase online access.
FREE PREVIEW. Purchase online access to read the full version of this article.
Am Fam Physician. 2015 Sep 15;92(6):online.
See related article on skin and soft tissue infections
What are skin and soft tissue infections?
Infections of the skin and underlying tissues happen when germs enter through breaks in the skin. Boils and abscesses are examples of simple skin infections. These kinds of infections are more common in children and older adults, in people who are frail or malnourished, and in people with health problems like diabetes or HIV.
What are the symptoms?
People with simple infections have pain, swelling, redness, and heat near the infected skin. More severe infections can cause a fever, vomiting, weakness, or drowsiness.
What is MRSA?
MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is a germ that is difficult to treat because it can't be controlled with many commonly used antibiotics. It causes nearly six out of 10 skin and soft tissue infections.
How are patients with these infections treated?
Simple infections can be treated with antibiotic ointments or pills. Sometimes doctors use a scalpel to cut open the wound and remove pus. Patients with serious medical conditions or very bad infections might need to be admitted to the hospital for surgery.
Where can I get more information?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.
Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions