National Skin Care Institute

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SKIN INFECTIONS: viral skin infections

Viral infections of the skin are mostly caused by:
Human papillomavirus (HPV) - is a family of over 100 viruses including those which cause several different types of warts, depending on the surface infected and its relative moisture, and the patterns of pressure: common warts, plantar warts, juvenile warts and genital warts. Over 30 types of HPV can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. The only way to prevent getting an HPV infection is to avoid direct contact with the virus, which is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact.

Human herpesviruses (HHV) - eight types this family viruses are known to cause disease in humans: HHV-1 causes cold sores/genital herpes, HHV-2 causes cold sores/genital herpes (the herpes simplex virus is also the cause of a form of viral encephalitis), HHV-3 causes chickenpox and shingles, HHV-4 (Epstein-Barr virus = EBV) causes infectious mononucleosis, Burkitt's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma, HHV-5 causes mononucleosis, retinitis, etc., HHV-6 causes "sixth disease" (roseola infantum, exanthem subitum), HHV-7 is closely related to HHV-6 and causes roughly the same symptoms, HHV-8 causes Kaposi's sarcoma.
Because they use the machinery of their host cells, viruses are difficult to kill. The most effective medical approaches to viral diseases, thus far, are vaccination to provide resistance to infection, and drugs that treat the symptoms of viral infections. Patients often ask for antibiotics, which are useless against viruses, and their misuse against viral infections is one of the causes of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. That said, sometimes the prudent course of action is to begin a course of antibiotic treatment while waiting for test results to determine whether the patient's symptoms are caused by a virus or a bacterial infection.

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