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Medicine that is used to treat bacterial infections and works by killing or stopping the growth and reproduction of bacteria. These can be specific to a particular bacteria or act on groups of related bacteria.  


A malignant tumour has the capacity to destroy surrounding tissues and can spread to other areas of the body as cells detach and are transported away in the blood or lymphatic system.


Radiation with a wavelength just greater than the red end of visible light. Causes the sensation of warmth on the skin.


Areas of inflamed, red, itchy skin which can flare up repeatedly throughout life.


A rash, usually on the face, caused by blockage and infection of the sebaceous glands in the skin.

Skin Problems

Skin problems can be a result of accidents or something causing an infection in the skin.

Skin Injuries

Skin can be damaged in lots of different ways. Sometimes the damage can break the skin which can let infection get into the body. Some of the ways in which skin can be damaged:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Insect bites
  • Dirty needles can push bacteria deep inside the body
  • Blisters
  • Bruises
  • Burns

We are lucky that skin can repair itself and, usually after a few days, a slight injury will be completely mended, but it is important to keep a wound clean so that there is less risk of infection.

A few days after burning her arm with hot oil
A few days after burning her arm with hot oil

Skin Infections

The skin is a barrier which stops infection from entering the body. However, the skin itself can become infected by bacteria, viruses, fungi or tiny parasites.

Cause & examples of skin infections
Cause of infection Some examples
Bacteria boils, impetigo
Fungi ringworm, athlete's foot
Viruses cold sore, wart, verucca
Parasite scabies
Crusty, yellow sores near the mouth caused by the impetigo bacteria
Impetigo 2
A close up of a pair of feet with red marks caused by the scabies parasite
Scabies 1
A close up of a red ring on someone's skin caused by the ring worm fungi
Ring worm 1
A close up of athlete's foot fungus between some toes
Athlete's foot 2

1 Images courtesy of Dr Dubin's collection, | 2 Photographs from


In eczema the skin is usually red, dry, sore and itchy. Anyone can get eczema and it can appear for no known reason or as an allergic reaction to something. It can be treated with special creams and sometimes disappears as suddenly as it came.


Acne is a rash, usually just on the face, and tends to occur in adolescence. It is caused by blockage and infection of the sebaceous glands in the skin. A doctor will recommend keeping the skin clean and may prescribe special creams or antibiotics.

Red dry sores of eczema on someone's elbow
Someone's chin covered in red acne blemishes

Skin Cancer

Severe sunburn on someone's back
Very bad sunburn

There are many different types of skin cancer, most of which are caused by prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight. About 1500 people die each year in England and Wales of one type, malignant , but many other types of skin cancer are fully curable if they are diagnosed early enough.

On hot sunny days, as well as UV rays, there will be infrared (IR) rays from the sun. These are responsible for the sun feeling hot on the skin but it is the UV rays from the sun that cause sunburn. Like any burn, sunburn damages the skin and takes time to heal. The damage can be at the surface and the deeper layers of the skin and, over a longer period of time, this can make the skin appear wrinkled and old.

To protect your skin, you are advised to cover up in the sun with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection. Areas that cannot be covered, the face, for example, should be protected with a sunscreen protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.

It is safest of all to avoid being out in the hottest part of the day, from about noon to 3 p.m. and, remember, you can still burn when swimming.

Question 3