Skin's role defending our bodies is compromised when there's a hole in the system -- a chink in the armor, you can say. Pus-filled abscesses and other skin infections can create abnormal reactions in the body that are both painful and bring on other symptoms. Skin infections also open up the body to microbes normally blocked by skin itself or the immune system.
Fortunately, ER doctors can drain abscesses and investigate skin problems, prescribing medications to battle infection and pain. Some infections that move rapidly or are resistant to antibiotics require speedy treatment, while others may not. One superbug bacterium, called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is increasingly common in emergency rooms [source: Champeau].
On the next page, we'll examine the more bizarre side of emergency rooms: when medical experts find objects in unexpected places.