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Skin infections are preventable. To keep your skin healthy:

  • Wash and dry hands with soap and water often

  • Keep skin clean

  • Wear clean clothes

  • Clean and Cover cuts and sores with plasters

  • Care for other skin conditions e.g. eczema – use your creams and lotions

  • Wash sheets and towels regularly

  • Eat healthy food.  Healthy food is important for healthy skin

  • Skin infections often start with an insect bite

  • Treat animals for fleas regularly


If left untreated skin infections can lead to serious health problems. Serious skin infections are a major cause of avoidable hospitalisations in New Zealand.  Families / whanau / individuals should be advised to seek medical attention if a sore or area of redness has any of the following features:

  • Is greater than the size of a ten cent coin (approximately 1.5cm)

  • Increasing size

  • Has pus

  • Has red streaks coming from it

  • Is not getting better within two days

  • Is located close to the eye

Healthy skin resources are available to download from our resource page.  This includes brochures, pamphlets, posters and tools for health professionals.


What are serious skin infections?

The term ‘serious skin infections’ includes a number of conditions such as cellulitis, impetigo and abscesses of the skin and subcutaneous tissue.

  • Cellulitis  is an acute bacterial infection of the soft tissues of the skin. The infection spreads causing the skin and layers underneath to become red, swollen and tender.

  • Impetigo  (or school sores) is characterised by small infectious blisters, which later develop a honey coloured scab like crust.

  • An abscess is a cavity containing pus which may also have surrounding cellulitis of the skin and tissue, all of which are largely caused by germs (bacteria).

If left untreated, skin infections can lead to serious health problems.  These infections can affect the blood, kidneys, bones, joints, lymph nodes and brain resulting in people needing to be hospitalised for treatment.  This is preventable, provided skin infections are acted on early enough.

For further information about serious skin conditions, visit Kidshealth.

 

Last modified: 14 Jun 2017
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