What are the Most Common Bacterial Infections?

Thursday 15 April 2021
Infections

Table of Contents


I. Bacteria 101

II. Who Gets Bacterial Infections?

III. Bacterial Skin Infections

a. Impetigo

b. Folliculitis

IV. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

V. Bacterial Pneumonia


Bacteria 101

Millions of bacterial infections occur every year in the United States. These types of infections vary from a simple infected cut on your finger to more severe infections like pneumonia or a urinary tract infection. The Centers for Disease Control cite that antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause over 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths each year. [1]

But what are these little organisms called bacteria? Bacteria are single-celled microbes that live all around us and within us. There are ten times as many bacterial cells in the body as human cells. The majority of bacterial cells are found in the digestive system. Bacteria are extremely resilient to conditions like heat, UV radiation, and disinfectants, making them difficult to kill. Antibiotic medications like amoxicillin may assist in the treatment of these infections. [2]

When exposed to antibiotics, bacteria may also develop resistance mechanisms by using instructions provided by their DNA. This can lead to antibiotic resistance that can prove fatal if dangerous infections cannot be treated. [3] There are several bacterial infection symptoms, and each type varies significantly. Read on to learn more about bacterial infections and prescription antibiotics.

an animation of bacteria

Who Gets Bacterial Infections?

Just about everyone will develop a bacterial infection in their lifetime. There are several bacterial infections, including foodborne infections, sexually transmitted infections, and bacterial skin infections. You may develop a bacterial infection after exposure to bacteria from another person, the environment, or eating or drinking contaminated food or water. You may also be at risk if you take certain medications that make you more susceptible to infection. [4]

Bacterial Skin Infections

Skin infections are a more common category of bacterial infections. This type of infection occurs when bacteria enter the body through broken skin or hair follicles. These infections can affect a small skin area or affect the entire body surface and may be harmless or life-threatening. [5]

a. Impetigo

Impetigo is a fairly common skin condition that affects mostly children. This infection can happen anywhere on the body but usually occurs on the face, arms, and legs. Poor hygiene and living in a moist environment are two common risk factors. Impetigo passes easily from person to person. Symptoms of impetigo include:

  • Clusters of tiny blisters that rupture and expose raw skin
  • Honey-colored crust over the sores
  • Itchy sores [6]

Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic like retapamulin cream to assist in symptoms. This drug stops the growth of bacteria on the skin. You typically apply this ointment twice a day for five days, but always follow your doctor’s directions. Your sores will likely improve within a few days of antibiotic use. [7]

a child with yellow sores on their mouth

b. Folliculitis

This type of infection involves the development of skin abscesses around the hair follicle. Abscesses may appear on the skin surface or deeper within the skin, but it always involves the hair follicles. Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is usually the culprit behind folliculitis. If you have Staphylococcus in your nose, which is quite common, the bacteria may pass to the skin and affect the follicle. Symptoms of folliculitis can include:

  • Clusters of red bumps or white-headed pimples around the follicles
  • Painful, tender skin
  • Pus-filled blisters that rupture and crust over [8]

Antibiotics like Keflex or retapamulin can be used for this infection to prevent the growth of bacteria and kill off the staphylococcus bacteria. Your doctor will prescribe the right medication for you.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

When bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra, they may begin to multiply in the bladder and cause an infection. Bacteria may take hold in the urinary tract and cause several unpleasant symptoms. Women are more likely to get UTIs because women have a shorter urethra than men, making it easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder. Sexual activity, birth control, catheter use, and urinary tract abnormalities increase your risk of a UTI. [9]

Monurol (fosfomycin) is an antibiotic that can treat several bladder infections. In some cases, Keflex can be used for UTIs as well. Like all other antibiotics, these drugs stop the growth of bacteria and clear up infections.

a foil packet of birth control

Bacterial Pneumonia

When bacteria enter the lungs, the lungs' air sacs can fill with fluid, pus, and cellular debris. A small part or the entire lung may be affected by bacteria. Pneumonia can be serious or mild, depending on several factors like your age and overall health. If chest infections are not treated properly, you may be putting your life at risk. X-rays can determine if you are experiencing a chest infection.  Symptoms of bacterial pneumonia include:

  • Stabbing chest pain
  • Cough with a thick yellow or blood-tinged mucus
  • A high fever
  • Sudden onset of chills that make you shake
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating [10]

Pneumonia may be transmitted in a hospital setting or a doctor's office. Levaquin, also known as levofloxacin, or amoxicillin can prevent the growth of bacteria in the lungs. Many people may ask, is there an antibiotic that is stronger than others? But there is no one-size-fits-all for bacterial infections, and your doctor will prescribe the best one for your condition.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.