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Introduction & module overview

Introduction & module overview

Skin conditions are one of the most common reasons for people to consult their GP – and the most common category of complaint is skin infections, according to a dermatology healthcare needs assessment (HCNA) published in 2009.1 Skin infections can be bacterial, fungal or viral. They can be minor, self-limiting episodes or may require referral for assessment and prescribed antimicrobial treatment. Pharmacies are often the first port of call for patients, so it important for pharmacists to be able to distinguish between minor and more serious skin infections, refer appropriately and advise on effective use of prescribed treatments and other supportive therapies.

This module focuses on common bacterial skin infections. The signs of infection – redness, heat, swelling and pain – are well known but can vary in degree and duration. In order to make an informed judgement as to whether to treat, ‘wait and see’ or refer a patient, some background knowledge is helpful. This needs to cover both likely causes of the presenting condition and possible outcomes of each strategy.