What's That Itch? Learn About Fungal, Bacterial, and Viral Skin Infections

    What's That Itch? Learn About Fungal, Bacterial, and Viral Skin Infections

    What are Fungal, Bacterial, and Viral Skin Infections?

    Fungal, bacterial, and viral skin infections all differ in how they infect people and spread. This is because while fungi, bacteria, and viruses can all be thought of as germs, they are very different in structure.

    There are many types of fungal, bacterial, and viral skin infections, and they all vary in how contagious and how seriously they can affect the body. Here are some of the more common examples of the three.

    Fungal, Bacterial, and Viral Skin Infections: Viruses

    Of all the causes of fungal, bacterial, and viral skin infections, viruses are the most simple of germs. This is because viruses are just genetic material, ribonucleic acid (RNA), in a protein shell. Scientists even debate if they can be considered alive, with some saying they are closer to automatons than living things. Viruses hijack our cells and replicate themselves until our bodies can no longer fight them off. They also start damaging our healthy cells.

    Among common viral infections are:


    The source of measles is rubeola. Measles is common in very young children, usually under the age of 5. A cough, runny nose, swollen eyes, sore throat, high fevers, and a red rash are some of the commonly seen symptoms of measles.


    The varicella-Zoster virus causes chickenpox. This is a viral infection that causes itchy rashes peppered with liquid-filled blisters. Signs to look out for include tiredness, headaches, fevers, and a loss of appetite, aside from the tell-tale bumps and blisters.

    Fungal, Bacterial, and Viral Skin Infections: Bacteria

    Bacteria are larger and more complex than viruses. Some bacteria are good for the body, such as the ones in yogurt that help us digest food better. On the other hand, there are contagious and potentially dangerous bacteria that can be spread through direct contact or the air. Some bacteria also carry an additional risk when they release toxins that can harm our bodies.

    Some bacterial infections to look out for are:


    This is characterized by a painful, red, inflamed infection of the dermis and subcutaneous tissues in the skin. It’s usually located near preexisting cuts, or breaks in skin, trauma, and other infections like athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm of the body. Streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria cause this condition.


    Impetigo is a common bacterial skin infection in children that is mild yet extremely contagious. It can occur on any part of the body but areas that are more exposed tend to be affected more, like areas of the face and limbs. Impetigo appears as red, itchy sores that later form pus and yellow crusts and scabs. Two bacteria that may cause impetigo include group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus.

    Fungal, Bacterial, and Viral Skin Infections: Fungi

    Fungi are more complex compared to bacteria and viruses. Most fungi are harmless to us, like edible mushrooms and yeast in bread. However, there are types of fungi that cause health issues when we come into contact with them, or they grow out of control in our bodies. Frequent or severe fungal infections may point to a weakened immune system and are more common in people with cancer, autoimmune diseases, or HIV/AIDS.

    Here are some fungal infections to watch out for:

    Tinea cruris

    Better known as jock itch or “had-had” in Filipino, this is a mild fungal infection that causes red, ring-shaped rashes around the groin area and buttocks. This can spread through direct touching of the area, or indirect means such as sharing clothing items like underwear and towels. The condition is easy to treat.

    Tinea pedis

    Better known as athlete’s foot or “alipunga” in Filipino, this is another mild fungal disease that grows on and around the feet area. Athlete’s foot, when left unchecked, can grow around the groin area and develop into jock itch.

    Tinea corporis

    This is also called ringworm of the body or “buni” in Filipino. This is another mild fungal infection. This fungus likes to grow in the torso area. Just like jock itch, athlete’s foot, and many other fungal conditions, tinea corporis likes warm damp places.

    Key takeaway

    There are many types of fungal, bacterial, and viral skin infections. They vary in how they affect the skin, how contagious they are, and how seriously they can affect the body. If you suspect you have a fungal, bacterial, or viral condition, contact your doctor immediately.

    Learn about Other Skin Diseases here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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    Accessed January 3, 2021

    ERYSIPELAS AND CELLULITIS: OVERVIEW, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK303996/#:~:text=Erysipelas%20affects%20the%20upper%20layers,blisters%20may%20form%20as%20well

    Accessed January 3, 2021

    COMMON BACTERIAL SKIN INFECTIONS, https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0701/p119.html

    Accessed January 3, 2021

    TINEA CORPORIS, https://dermnetnz.org/topics/tinea-corporis/#:~:text=Tinea%20corporis%20is%20a%20superficial,with%20characteristic%20ring%2Dshaped%20lesions

    Accessed January 3, 2021

    ATHLETE’S FOOT (TINEA PEDIS), https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/athletes-foot-tinea-pedis-a-to-z

    Accessed January 3, 2021

    JOCK ITCH (TINEA CRURIS), https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/jock-itch-tinea-cruris-a-to-z

    Accessed January 3, 2021

    Cellulitis, https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/c/cellulitis.html

    Accessed May 17, 2021

    Impetigo https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-public/impetigo.html Accessed July 26, 2022

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    Written by Kip Soliva Updated Jul 26
    Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD