The manner in which you can treat a bacterial skin infection may depend on the type of infection. Some minor skin infections may be treated at home with topical antibiotic creams, while others may require treatment with prescription-strength antibiotic creams and oral antibiotics. You may do well to see a doctor for a skin infection before you try to treat it on your own. Some skin infections may look fairly minor but develop into a more serious infections quickly; the right treatment may prevent them from worsening.
If you discover a bacterial skin infection at home, you may apply an over-the-counter antibacterial cream as an initial measure. You may also cover it with a bandage that allows for good air circulation, yet keeps the infected area covered to prevent the spread of the bacterial infection. Once you have taken these initial steps, however, you may do well to make an appointment with a doctor to have the infection evaluated. If it appears to be a minor infection and you do not have a fever, you may be able to wait a day or two for an appointment. If you do have a fever, however, or the infected area smells or appears serious, you may need to see a doctor immediately.
The treatment a doctor recommends typically depends on the type of bacterial skin infection you have. For example, if you have cellulitis, a skin infection that typically affects the deeper layers of skin, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics you can take at home. He may also prescribe a prescription-strength topical antibiotic. If you have impetigo, which is marked by blisters that ooze and form crusts, your doctor may prescribe an antibacterial cream that you can apply at home as well. If your case of impetigo is severe, however, your doctor may prefer to treat it with oral antibiotics.
Sometimes bacterial skin infections are serious and require a person to be hospitalized for treatment and monitoring. In some cases, patients are even quarantined because of severe skin infections. For example, a severe case of cellulitis may require you to be hospitalized for treatment with intravenous antibiotics. This can help prevent the infection from affecting other parts of the body. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, which are resistant to the antibiotics commonly used for skin infections, sometimes requires hospitalization as well, and a highly-contagious individual may be quarantined.