The skin has a very strong protective ability. It is water resistant and therefore bacteria and other ineffective agents find it difficult to penetrate. The top layers of the skin are dead cells and therefore viruses cannot live within them. The skin surface is a precarious habitat because our own bacterial flora competes for food with harmful bugs and attacks them directly. The sebum contains immunoglobulin A, a defence chemical that attacks foreign bodies. The deeper layers of skin are packed full of white blood cells and the basement membrane upon which the skin basement cells grow is another fairly impenetrable barrier of fat and protein.
For infection to set in, damage must first be made to the integrity of these barriers or the protective secretions. Once an infective agent penetrates, it can set up home and feed off the nutrients in the blood. Infections will benefit by the sugar content in the bloodstream which is promoted by ingestion of refined sugars and fats.
If the body’s defence mechanism is low or an infection is left untreated, abscesses and boils may form. Infections within the bloodstream may be expelled through the skin, as in chickenpox, measles or more serious infections caused by bacteria in the bloodstream . Staphylococcal and streptococcal infections may cause a condition called impetigo.
See Care of the skin to avoid infections and assess why an infection has set in.
Please refer to the specific section here for conditions such as abscesses, boils and impetigo.
Review and pay attention to general nutritional status because the skin may reflect any deficiencies before other organs.
Persisting skin infections need to be assessed by a GP to find underlying causes, although treatment is best offered by complementary medical practitioners.
Use Calendula-based creams on the site of infection.
Ensure good hydration by drinking one pint of water per foot of height throughout the day to ensure dilution of sebum, which may thicken, especially if there is fever.
Avoid topical antibiotics, which will kill off the good skin bacteria as well as the bad and may encourage resistant strains.
Avoid steroid applications, which may take down the level of inflammation but in the process remove the body’s defence mechanism.