General skin infections
Skin problems can occur as a result of a number of infections, viral (warts, verrucae, herpes HSV 1, HPV and HSV 2), fungal (nail and hair) and bacterial (folliculitis, impetigo).
Herpes Simplex Virus
The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV 1), commonly known as herpes is an infection of the skin that includes watery blisters in the skin around the lips and mouth. Although the herpes infection may only manifest as one outbreak of sores initially, it is highly likely that an individual will have many outbreaks in the future. Herpes is spread orally, through kissing or the sharing of objects like eating utensils or toothbrushes. After infection the virus can stay dormant for months. Outbreaks may occur and they create unnecessary stress, fatigue or severe irritation to the infected area. Herpes is treated by the prescription of antiviral medications to people with primary outbreak oral herpes. With the help of this medication, the severity and length of the outbreak are reduced. The antiviral medication can help reduce the number of days an individual has to suffer painful sores. The medication works by stopping the virus from multiplying in the body. Because the virus, once contracted, will never leave the body only the physical aspects of the herpes will go away. The sooner the medication is started the faster the symptoms are relieved.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is considered the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). In many cases, HPV can lead to warts and other physical symptoms and can cause itching and burning of the skin. HPV is the primary cause of genital warts which are flat, cluster-like growths around the genital areas, anus and even the mouth. Individuals have the warts removed for many reasons, such as irritation of the skin or that they do not like the way the warts look. The warts are usually painless but may have symptoms of itching, burning and tenderness.
Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV 2) has similar characteristics to type 1, however type 2 is transmitted through sexual intercourse. It is associated with the formation of sores below the waistline. The symptoms of a herpes type 2 outbreak consist of blisters forming and spreading around the genital region, rectum and even around the lower part of the waistline. The blisters may become itchy and split open, emitting a fluid that causes additional irritation. This fluid carries the virus which makes it easy to transfer. Currently there is no cure for herpes type 1 or 2 but the physical outbreaks can be lessened. Individuals who suffer multiple breakouts can take anti-viral medications to stop the blisters and sores. If an individual’s immune system is weakened they have an increased likelihood of herpes type 2 forming.
Fungal infections of the toenails and fingernails are caused by fungal microbes that invade the nail bed. Fungal nail infection is also called onychomycosis and tine unguium. It causes the fingernails or toenails to thicken, discolour, disfigure and split. At first this is only a cosmetic concern but as the toenails thicken they can cause pressure and pain when wearing shoes. Onychomycosis is the most common nail infection in adults, usually affecting the toenails. Its incidence is increasing and is associated with diabetes, a suppressed immune system and increasing age.
Ringworm actually has nothing to do with worms, it is in fact a fungal infection of the scalp, although it can occur anywhere in the body. It is often mistaken for dandruff/eczema or psoriasis in its early stages until the infection begins to cause patchy hair loss and is referred to by doctors as ‘tinea capitis’. This fungal infection is the thing as athlete’s foot and the same as the fungal infection onychomyosis which affects the nails too. Ringworm is highly contagious and should be diagnosed and treated immediately.
Folliculitis is a bacterial infection of the hair follicles causing inflammation and has an acne-like appearance. In the early stages of folliculitis the hair fibres may still be present but as the infection progresses they fall out leaving hairless patches and in severe cases permanently damaging the follicles to leave bald patches. There are non-infectious forms of folliculitis caused by oils and grease clogging the hair follicles, but folliculitis is usually a bacterial infection.
Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection. It usually occurs on the face, neck and hands of young children and infants and sometimes in adults following another infection or skin condition. Impetigo forms sores, blisters and a rash.
Warts and verrucae
Painless laser treatments and medical management
The warts and verrucae that are caused by the HPV can be treated quickly, simply and effectively with Regenlite pulsed dye laser (to painlessly shrink the blood vessels supplying the wart/verrucae), cryotherapy (where the cells within the wart/verrucae are killed by freezing), cutting off the blood supply feeding the wart, allowing it to die and fall off naturally, or to have them surgically removed. Whichever the method, it is important to have instructions to prevent new ones growing.
HSV 1 is treated via antiviral medication or for those who suffer six or more outbreaks a year with severe pain Chronic Suppression Therapy (CST) can be considered and can help those who are emotionally and psychologically stressed from the appearance and pain of herpes. Genital warts contracted via the HPV as an STI can be quickly and painlessly treated with Regenlite laser by cryotherapy or surgery.
The symptoms of HSV 2 which is also an STI are managed with anti-viral medications to strengthen the weakened immune system and are used as a preventive measure to lessen future outbreaks.
Fungal nail and scalp infections are treated with oral or topical anti-fungal medications after a culture or blood sample has been taken. Impetigo and folliculitis are also treated with prescribed topical or oral medications along with a recommended skincare regime.
FOCUS ON: Laser treatments can painlessly and quickly clear unsightly warts and verrucae by shrinking the blood vessels that supply it nutrients so that it naturally falls off after a few weeks leaving the skin undamaged – prevention and medical management are key to minimising future reoccurrences.
At ethos we want to help you to achieve a lifestyle that supports a healthy immune system to minimise outbreaks and their severity. Education is key to controlling outbreaks and preventing the spread of infection to healthy skin areas or to others.