Streptococci are bacteria that live in and on the human body. As a rule, these bacteria are harmless. However, under certain circumstances, they can cause dangerous infections. What streptococci also have to do with psoriasis is explained in this article.
What are streptococci?
Streptococci are a type of bacteria that have many different forms. These variants are called “strains”. Most strains of bacteria are completely harmless. However, some strains can cause infections. This type of bacteria gains energy through fermentation and can grow even without oxygen.
Where do they occur?
The bacteria are mainly found in the intestines, mouth, throat and vagina.
What types are there?
The bacteria exist in many varieties. The most common bacteria are classified into three main strains.
Pneumococci (Streptococcus pneumoniae)
They are located in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat and can cause pneumonia.
A-streptococci (Streptococcus pyogenes)
These bacteria affect individual parts or the entire body. They cause fever and infectious diseases.
B-streptococci (Streptococcus agalactiae)
B-streptococci can cause various diseases. A particularly dreaded one is newborn sepsis.
Are streptococci dangerous?
Normally, there is no danger posed by these bacteria. But if an infection occurs, caution is advised. This is especially true for people with weakened immune defenses and for people who suffer from a chronic illness. If an infection is not treated, serious illness may occur. Infections should therefore always be treated by a doctor.
Infection with streptococci
Infection occurs differently depending on the type of bacteria.
The most frequent transmission paths are:
- Droplet infection (sneezing or coughing)
- Direct contact with infected wounds
- Transmission from mother to child during birth
How to avoid infection?
In order not to become infected with the bacteria, the following points should be observed
- Avoid direct contact with the sick person
- Wash and disinfect hands regularly
- Strengthen the immune system (sufficient sleep, healthy food, vitamins)
How is an infection with streptococci diagnosed?
If infection with streptococci is suspected, a doctor must be consulted. This doctor will then make the diagnosis. There are two methods to determine whether an infection is present.
Usually, a diagnosis is made based on the symptoms present. The course of the disease also provides information about a possible infection.
If the symptoms are not clear or if a specific form of infection is suspected, the doctor will carry out a laboratory examination. In this way, it can be clearly determined whether and which infection is present.
What diseases cause streptococci?
The bacteria can lead to various diseases. Depending on the part of the body, the symptoms and the course of the disease also differ.
The most common diseases are:
Angina is a painful inflammation of the throat. Other symptoms are sore throat and fever. Children especially suffer from angina often. It is transmitted via droplets. Treatment is carried out with antibiotics and antipyretic agents.
Scarlet fever is a childhood disease, notable for its rash. In addition to the red skin spots, the symptoms include fever, chills and painful pharyngitis. Transmission occurs through droplets or open wounds (wound scarlet fever). The infection can be treated quickly and effectively with antibiotics.
Inflammation of the sinuses is often caused by viruses. However, streptococci can also cause bacterial sinusitis. The sinuses fill with mucus. Breathing is difficult, headaches and general indisposition occur. The infection is caused by the spread of viruses through the air. In most cases, household remedies are sufficient for the treatment. In severe cases, nasal sprays containing cortisone and painkillers can help.
A number of bacteria can cause urinary tract infections. Streptococci are also among them. A bladder infection manifests itself through pain when urinating and a frequent need to urinate. The diagnosis is based on an analysis of the symptoms. In case of doubt, an examination of the urine can also be performed. Home remedies such as warm tea often help. In more severe cases, doctors administer antibiotics.
Pneumonia is a serious disease. It causes severe coughing, pain when breathing and mucous sputum. High fever and a high pulse accompany the disease. Inflammation of the lungs can be caused by viruses, parasites or external stimuli (for example, inhalation of toxins). However, the most common cause is infection with streptococci, or more precisely pneumococci. If left untreated, it can lead to severe disease progression. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted immediately if symptoms occur.
Meningitis is a serious disease. The inflammation affects the meninges and adjacent areas of the brain. The symptoms often develop within a few hours. Typical symptoms are fever and stiffness of the neck. Headaches, tiredness and dizziness are also common. If the meningitis is not treated quickly, permanent damage occurs. In particularly severe cases, death occurs. The infection is treated with antibiotics.
If the genital area of a pregnant woman is colonized with streptococci, the bacteria can infect the child at birth. As a rule, this only affects a very small proportion of newborns. However, if an infection occurs, this leads to blood poisoning. If this is not treated, it is life-threatening for the newborn. Therefore, in risk cases, doctors treat the pregnant woman with antibiotics during the birth as a preventive measure. After the birth, the newborn baby is carefully monitored for symptoms of illness.
Streptococci and psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. The skin divides far too often. This leads to redness, itching and scaly patches. Streptococci are repeatedly mentioned in connection with psoriasis. An infection with streptococci can cause psoriasis. This form of psoriasis is called psoriasis guttata.
What is psoriasis guttata?
Psoriasis guttata is a special type of psoriasis. Small red spots on the skin are typical. This is where the name comes from, because “guttata” means speckled. The spots are only a few millimeters in diameter. They are mainly on the chest, back, arms and legs. They are arranged like small drops and are rather flat. Because large thickened areas of skin are absent in this form of the disease, it can be clearly distinguished from ordinary psoriasis.
Psoriasis guttata and streptococcal infection
Psoriasis guttata often occurs in children and adolescents. The trigger is typically a streptococcal infection of the respiratory tract. Certain drugs (e.g. beta-blockers) are also suspected to trigger guttate psoriasis.
Streptococci as a trigger for psoriasis
An infection with streptococci can actually trigger psoriasis. Two forms of psoriasis should be distinguished:
Psoriasis guttata usually occurs in connection with a streptococcal infection. If the bacterial infection is cured, in many cases the psoriasis also disappears again. This is particularly the case if there was no previous psoriasis.
In some cases, however, guttata psoriasis does not disappear. It then changes into a chronic form of psoriasis. In these cases, the psoriasis often spreads to other parts of the body. A typical example is the scalp.
How is psoriasis diagnosed?
Due to the characteristic clinical picture, doctors usually diagnose Psoriasis Guttata with certainty. The typical drop-shaped reddening of the skin distinguishes this form of psoriasis from ordinary psoriasis. In rare cases, Psoriasis Guttata is confused with ordinary eczema. To be on the safe side, we advise you to consult an experienced dermatologist.
How is streptococci-caused psoriasis treated?
Doctors treat psoriasis guttata on different levels.
Fighting the causes
In order for the symptoms to heal quickly, the triggers of psoriasis are treated first. If there is an infection with streptococci, it must be cured. If the relapse was caused by medication, the affected person must avoid this medication. If there is a connection between chronic tonsillitis and psoriasis guttata, the tonsils can be removed surgically. All treatment approaches must be discussed with the doctor treating the patient.
Creams and ointments help to soothe itchy skin areas and combat inflammation. External applications often provide excellent relief, especially for mild forms of psoriasis. Depending on the degree of psoriasis, different active ingredients support the treatment. Some creams specifically help to reduce itching, others weaken inflammation. Over-the-counter creams can also provide excellent support for the skin.
If a more severe form of psoriasis is present, drugs often have an excellent effect. Active ingredients such as fumaric acid, methotrexate or Ciclosporin often improve the symptoms significantly. However, it is important that the drugs are targeted to the symptoms. Close cooperation with the treating physician is therefore indispensable.
In addition to creams and medications, there are a number of other therapies that are excellent for psoriasis. The main forms are:
- Light therapy
- Laser therapy
- Full baths with bath additives
- Caring oils like almond oil, black cumin oil, evening primrose oil
- Nutrients such as turmeric, vitamin D or vitamin A
These forms of therapy can also be combined with each other as required.
Streptococci – harmless when properly treated
Infections with streptococci show great variation. The spectrum ranges from more harmless diseases such as cystitis to more serious infections such as meningitis. Psoriasis can also be caused by streptococci. In principle, however, the following applies: If streptococci are treated correctly, there is no danger. Even if psoriasis is caused by streptococci, those affected usually get the symptoms under control.
FAQ about streptococci and psoriasis
What are streptococci?
Streptococci are bacteria that live in and on the human body. They are mainly found in the intestines, mouth, throat and vagina. As a rule, these bacteria are harmless. However, streptococci can also cause serious diseases such as angina, meningitis, pneumonia and psoriasis. If infection with streptococci is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Can streptococci cause psoriasis?
Yes, an infection with streptococci can cause psoriasis. Symptoms are small red spots on the skin. This form of psoriasis is called psoriasis guttata. Children and young people are particularly affected by it. In mild cases, the psoriasis disappears again as soon as the streptococci have healed. In many cases, however, it turns into a chronic form of psoriasis. A diagnosis can be made by the doctor treating the patient.
How are streptococci treated?
Streptococci are treated differently, depending on their severity and clinical picture. In mild cases, household remedies can alleviate the infection. In many cases, painkillers and antipyretic drugs are used. If there is a serious infection, antibiotics must be administered. If the streptococcus infection causes psoriasis, it can be treated externally with creams or internally with medication.
Bernd is one of the founders of Simply Psoriasis. He has been suffering from psoriasis for more than 20 years, but sees the chronic skin disease with more composure than a few years ago (which was a hard work). Nevertheless, he is very keen to make psoriasis easier and more socially accepted.