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Skin Infections

Understanding Skin Infections: TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track’s Comprehensive Guide

Skin infections are a common medical concern that individuals of all ages may encounter. At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we are committed to providing comprehensive healthcare services, and understanding skin infections is essential for our healthcare professionals and patients alike. In this guide, we will delve into the various aspects of skin infections, including their causes, types, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and prevention strategies.

By gaining a better understanding of skin infections, you can take proactive steps to protect your skin and seek appropriate care when needed.

Understanding Skin Infections

Skin is the body’s largest organ and serves as a protective barrier against external threats such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. However, it is not impervious, and various factors can compromise its integrity, leading to skin infections. Skin infections occur when harmful microorganisms invade the skin and multiply, resulting in localized or widespread symptoms.

At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we emphasize the importance of recognizing and addressing skin infections promptly to prevent complications and discomfort. Whether caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, skin infections can affect anyone, and understanding their underlying causes is crucial.

Causes of Skin Infections

Skin infections can stem from a variety of causes, and understanding the underlying factors can aid in prevention and treatment. Some of the common causes of skin infections include:

Bacterial Infections:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection): This bacterium is a common cause of skin infections, ranging from minor boils and cellulitis to more serious conditions like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections.
  • Streptococcus pyogenes (Streptococcal infection): Streptococcal bacteria can lead to skin infections such as impetigo and erysipelas.

Viral Infections:

  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV): HSV can cause cold sores or genital herpes, resulting in painful lesions on the skin.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): HPV infection can lead to various skin issues, including warts and, in some cases, skin cancer.

Fungal Infections:

  • Dermatophytes: These fungi can cause common skin conditions like athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), ringworm (tinea corporis), and jock itch (tinea cruris).
  • Candida: Yeast infections caused by Candida species can affect the skin and mucous membranes, leading to conditions like diaper rash and oral thrush.

Parasitic Infections:

  • Scabies: This parasitic infestation is caused by Sarcoptes scabiei mites and results in intense itching and skin rash.
  • Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis): Lice infestations can lead to itching and skin irritation, primarily affecting the scalp and neck.

Allergic Reactions:

  • Contact dermatitis: Allergic reactions to irritants or allergens, such as poison ivy, certain chemicals, or metals like nickel, can cause skin inflammation and rashes.

Immunocompromised States:

  • Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or diabetes, are more susceptible to various skin infections.

Understanding the specific cause of a skin infection is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment and management plan.

Common Types of Skin Infections

At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we encounter a wide range of skin infections on a daily basis. Here are some common types of skin infections that our healthcare professionals diagnose and treat:

Cellulitis:

  • Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that typically affects the deeper layers of the skin and underlying tissues. It is characterized by redness, warmth, swelling, and pain in the affected area. Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria are common culprits.

Impetigo:

  • Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects children. It presents as red sores that rupture, ooze fluid, and form a honey-colored crust. Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes are responsible for impetigo.

Boils (Furuncles) and Carbuncles:

  • Boils are painful, pus-filled lumps that develop beneath the skin. Carbuncles are clusters of interconnected boils. Staphylococcus bacteria usually cause these infections.

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Infections:

  • HSV infections can result in cold sores (HSV-1) or genital herpes (HSV-2). They present as painful, fluid-filled blisters and are caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Fungal Infections:

  • Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis): This fungal infection affects the feet, causing itching, redness, and peeling of the skin.
  • Ringworm (Tinea Corporis): Ringworm is a fungal infection that forms a ring-shaped, red, and scaly rash on the skin.
  • Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris): Tinea cruris is a fungal infection that affects the groin area, leading to itching and redness.

Scabies:

  • Scabies is a parasitic infestation caused by microscopic mites. It results in intense itching, especially at night, and the appearance of small red bumps or blisters.

Head Lice:

  • Head lice are tiny insects that infest the scalp and hair, causing itching and irritation. Lice eggs (nits) may also be visible on hair shafts.

Warts:

  • Warts are benign growths on the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can appear on various parts of the body, including the hands, feet, and genital area.

Yeast Infections:

  • Yeast infections caused by Candida species can affect the skin, leading to conditions such as diaper rash in infants or oral thrush in adults.

These are just a few examples of the skin infections that individuals may encounter. It’s essential to recognize the specific type of infection to determine the appropriate treatment approach.

Signs and Symptoms

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of skin infections is crucial for seeking timely medical attention. Symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the infection but may include:

Redness and Inflammation:

  • Skin infections often cause redness and inflammation at the affected site. The skin may appear warm to the touch.

Pain or Itching:

  • Skin infections can be accompanied by pain or intense itching, causing discomfort and distress.

Swelling:

  • Swelling may occur in the affected area, particularly in cases of cellulitis, abscesses, or severe infections.

Rash or Lesions:

  • Rashes, blisters, pustules, or open sores may develop on the skin, depending on the type of infection.

Drainage or Pus:

  • Some skin infections, such as boils and abscesses, may produce pus or discharge from the affected area.

Fever:

  • In severe cases or when the infection spreads beyond the skin, individuals may experience fever and chills.

Crusting or Scaling:

  • Certain infections, like impetigo, can result in the formation of a honey-colored crust on the skin.

Hair Loss:

  • In cases of fungal infections affecting the scalp, hair loss may occur.

Visible Parasites:

  • Skin infections caused by parasites, such as scabies or lice, may be associated with visible mites or insects on the skin or in the hair.

It’s important to note that some skin infections, such as fungal infections or viral warts, may present with less discomfort and more cosmetic concerns. Regardless of the severity of symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical evaluation and treatment when any unusual skin changes or discomfort occur.

Diagnosis of Skin Infections

Accurate diagnosis is a crucial step in effectively treating skin infections. At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, our healthcare professionals employ various diagnostic methods to identify the underlying cause of skin issues:

Physical Examination:

  • A thorough physical examination is often the first step in diagnosing skin infections. Healthcare providers assess the appearance, location, and characteristics of skin lesions, rashes, or other abnormalities.

Patient History:

  • Gathering information about the patient’s medical history, recent exposures, travel, and prior skin conditions can provide valuable clues to the diagnosis.

Microscopic Examination:

  • In cases of suspected fungal or parasitic infections, microscopic examination of skin scrapings or samples may be performed to identify the causative microorganism.

Cultures:

  • Cultures may be taken from skin lesions or swabs to grow and identify the specific bacteria responsible for the infection. This is particularly important in cases of suspected staphylococcal or streptococcal infections.

Blood Tests:

  • Blood tests may be ordered to assess white blood cell counts and inflammatory markers in cases where the infection has spread or when a systemic infection is suspected.

Biopsy:

  • In certain cases, a skin biopsy may be necessary to obtain a small sample of affected tissue for microscopic examination. This can help confirm the diagnosis and rule out more serious conditions.

Viral Testing:

  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or viral culture may be used to diagnose viral skin infections, such as herpes or warts.

Allergy Testing:

  • In cases of suspected contact dermatitis or allergic reactions, patch testing may be performed to identify specific allergens triggering the skin condition.

Accurate diagnosis is essential for tailoring the treatment approach to the specific type of skin infection. It also helps healthcare providers determine if any underlying medical conditions or immunocompromised states are contributing to the infection.

Treatment Options

Treatment of skin infections at TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track is customized based on the type, severity, and underlying cause of the infection. The following are common treatment options for various skin infections:

Bacterial Infections:

  • Antibiotics: Bacterial skin infections, such as cellulitis or impetigo, are typically treated with oral or topical antibiotics. Severe infections may require intravenous (IV) antibiotics in a hospital setting.
  • Incision and Drainage: In cases of abscesses or boils, healthcare providers may need to drain the pus and remove any accumulated material.

Viral Infections:

  • Antiviral Medications: Antiviral medications may be prescribed for viral skin infections like herpes simplex virus (HSV) or shingles to reduce symptoms and prevent recurrence.
  • Warts: Various treatment options are available for warts, including topical medications, cryotherapy (freezing), or surgical removal.

Fungal Infections:

  • Antifungal Medications: Topical or oral antifungal medications are prescribed to treat fungal skin infections like athlete’s foot, ringworm, or jock itch.
  • Scalp Infections: In cases of fungal infections affecting the scalp, oral antifungal medications may be necessary.

Parasitic Infections:

  • Scabies: Scabies is treated with prescription topical medications to kill the mites and alleviate symptoms. Close contacts may also need treatment.
  • Head Lice: Over-the-counter or prescription lice treatments, such as shampoos or lotions, are used to eliminate head lice and nits.

Allergic Reactions:

  • Avoidance: Identifying and avoiding the allergen or irritant responsible for contact dermatitis is crucial.
  • Topical Steroids: In cases of severe contact dermatitis, healthcare providers may prescribe topical steroids to reduce inflammation and itching.

Supportive Care:

  • Hydration and Pain Relief: Adequate hydration and pain relief measures may be recommended to manage discomfort and fever associated with some skin infections.

Prevention of Recurrence:

  • Patients are often advised on preventive measures to reduce the risk of recurrent skin infections, such as proper wound care, hand hygiene, and lifestyle modifications.

It is essential to complete the full course of prescribed medications and follow-up with healthcare providers as recommended to ensure the infection is effectively treated. Failure to do so may lead to recurrence or antibiotic resistance in the case of bacterial infections.

Prevention Strategies

At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we believe in the importance of preventive healthcare. While it may not always be possible to entirely eliminate the risk of skin infections, adopting certain practices can help reduce your susceptibility. Here are some prevention strategies:

Good Hand Hygiene:

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.

Wound Care:

  • Clean and cover any cuts, scrapes, or open wounds with a clean bandage. This helps prevent bacterial and fungal infections.

Personal Hygiene:

  • Maintain proper personal hygiene, including regular bathing, washing hair, and keeping nails trimmed and clean.

Avoid Sharing Personal Items:

  • Do not share towels, razors, or other personal items that may come into contact with your skin. This reduces the risk of spreading infections.

Protection Against Insects:

  • Use insect repellent to prevent insect bites, which can lead to skin infections or infestations.

Avoid Close Contact:

  • If you know someone has a contagious skin infection, try to avoid close contact until the infection has resolved.

Foot Hygiene:

  • Keep your feet clean and dry, especially in warm and humid conditions, to prevent fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

Practice Safe Sex:

  • Use condoms and practice safe sex to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause genital skin infections.

Allergen Avoidance:

  • Identify and avoid allergens or irritants that trigger allergic skin reactions, such as certain plants or chemicals.

Immunizations: – Ensure that you are up to date on vaccinations, including those that protect against viral infections like chickenpox and HPV.

By incorporating these preventive measures into your daily routine, you can reduce your risk of developing skin infections and promote overall skin health.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Knowing when to seek medical attention for a skin infection is crucial to prevent complications and ensure timely treatment. At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we recommend contacting a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:

Signs of Infection Spread:

  • If the infection appears to be spreading beyond the initial site, causing red streaks, increased pain, or fever, seek immediate medical attention.

Severe Symptoms:

  • If you experience severe pain, high fever, or difficulty moving a joint near the infection site, it may indicate a more serious condition requiring medical evaluation.

Recurrent Infections:

  • If you have a history of recurrent skin infections or if the infection does not improve with at-home care, consult a healthcare provider.

Underlying Medical Conditions:

  • Individuals with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions should seek medical evaluation for even minor skin issues, as they are at higher risk of complications.

Concerns about Allergic Reactions:

  • If you suspect an allergic reaction to a substance or medication, seek medical attention immediately, especially if you experience difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, or hives.

Persistent or Worsening Symptoms:

  • If your skin infection symptoms persist or worsen despite following prescribed treatment, consult your healthcare provider for further evaluation.

Conclusion

Skin infections are common medical conditions that can affect individuals of all ages. At TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track, we prioritize the well-being of our patients and emphasize the importance of understanding, preventing, and seeking timely treatment for skin infections. By recognizing the causes, types, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for skin infections, individuals can take proactive steps to protect their skin health.

Remember that early intervention is key to effectively managing skin infections and preventing complications. If you suspect you have a skin infection or experience concerning symptoms, do not hesitate to contact a healthcare provider at any of our 15+ locations across Tampa for a thorough evaluation. Your skin is a valuable asset, and taking care of it is essential for your overall health and quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Sources:

Mayo Clinic – Skin Infections Overview

Source: Mayo Clinic – Skin Infections Overview

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Common Skin Infections

Source: CDC – Common Skin Infections

American Academy of Dermatology – Bacterial Infections

Source: AAD – Bacterial Infections

American Academy of Dermatology – Viral Infections

Source: AAD – Viral Infections

American Academy of Dermatology – Fungal Infections

Source: AAD – Fungal Infections

American Academy of Dermatology – Parasitic Infections

Source: AAD – Parasitic Infections

WebMD – Skin Infections: What You Need to Know

Source: WebMD – Skin Infections: What You Need to Know

Johns Hopkins Medicine – Skin and Soft Tissue Infections

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine – Skin and Soft Tissue Infections

U.S. National Library of Medicine – MedlinePlus – Skin Infections

Source: MedlinePlus – Skin Infections

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology – Contact Dermatitis

Source: AAAAI – Contact Dermatitis

American Academy of Dermatology – Impetigo

Source: AAD – Impetigo

American Academy of Dermatology – Boils and Carbuncles

Source: AAD – Boils and Carbuncles

Please note that while these sources provide valuable information, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional at TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track for specific medical advice and treatment tailored to your individual situation.

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Commitment to Responsible Prescribing Practices

We are committed to responsible antibiotic prescribing practices. Our goal is to adequately treat infections while protecting our community from the harmful effects of antibiotic resistant infections. TGH Urgent Care has earned the Antibiotic Stewardship Commendation Award from the Urgent Care Association due to our ongoing commitment to this goal.

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