Skin and soft tissue infections in injection drug users

  • Patricia D. Brown
  • John R. Ebright


Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are common among injection drug users (IDUs). Subcutaneous and intramuscular injection ("skin-popping") and the injection of "speedballs" (a mixture of heroin and cocaine) are important risk factors for SSTIs in this patient population. Female IDUs appear to be at greater risk of SSTIs than male IDUs, probably because of more difficult venous access. There are conflicting data regarding the impact of HIV and human T-cell lymphotrophic virus II infection on the risk of SSTIs in IDUs; however, an expanding body of evidence suggests that immunosuppressive effects of the drugs themselves may play a role. Most information regarding the microbiology of SSTIs in IDUs comes from data on skin and subcutaneous abscesses, where Staphylococcus aureus and organisms that originate from the oral flora predominate. Clonal outbreaks and uncommon infections including tetanus, wound botulism, and a sepsis/myonecrosis syndrome due to Clostridium species have been recently reported in IDUs.

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Copyright information

© Current Science Inc 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia D. Brown
    • 1
  • John R. Ebright
  1. 1.Division of Infectious DiseasesHarper University HospitalDetroitUSA

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