Bacterial skin infections may be uncomplicated or complicated. Uncomplicated infections usually respond promptly to systemic antibiotics and local wound care. A skin infection is considered complicated when it meets 2 of the following 5 criteria:
All uncomplicated skin infections have the potential to become complicated. Complicated skin and soft-tissue infections may require multidrug therapy and the assistance of other consultants (eg, surgeons, infectious disease specialists), particularly in light of resistance in many strains of bacteria and the rapid loss of efficacy among more potent antibiotics. Recurrent skin infections should raise suspicion of colonization (eg, staphylococcal nasal carriage), resistant strains of bacteria (eg, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA]), cancer, poorly controlled diabetes, or other reasons for immunocompromise (eg, HIV, hepatitis, advanced age, congenital susceptibility). Bacteria are involved in the pathophysiology of acne, but acne is not primarily considered a bacterial skin infection.
Last full review/revision October 2007 by A. Damian Dhar, MD, JD