Forty million Americans suffered from skin infections in 2013, according to a 2017 AAD report—many of which can’t be cured with over-the-counter meds and can become contagious or deadly if not treated quickly.And they’re on the rise: 25 percent more Americans were admitted to hospitals in 2011 versus 2005 for serious bacterial skin infections such as MRSA and necrotizing fasciitis.
“The public doesn’t understand the seriousness and the burden that skin diseases have on patients,” says Columbia, Missouri, dermatologist Karen Edison, M.D., the deputy chair of the AAD’s Access to Dermatologic Care Committee. Here are a few common skin issues of concern:


What it is: A contagious antibiotic-resistant bacterial skin infection

Symptoms: Usually starts out as swollen, red, painful bumps that look like spider bites, which then cause fever

Consequences: It can kill in as quickly as one week without careful treatment, typically an IV of an antibiotic to which it is not resistant.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

What it is: A bacterial skin infection that usually enters a cut or scrape, destroys tissue, and spreads quickly

Symptoms: Pain, soreness that feels like a pulled muscle, fever, chills, fatigue; can feel flu-like

Consequences: It can kill in days unless intravenous antibiotics are given. Surgery is sometimes necessary.


What it is: An inflammatory skin disease that afflicts 7.5 million Americans

Symptoms: Red, scaly patches that itch or burn

Consequences: People with psoriasis often have widespread inflammation, putting them at risk for stroke and depression. Those with severe versions report low quality of life.