Impetigo: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. This infection affects the superficial skin layer. It mostly affects children between 2 to 6 years of age. And the people who are into sports which need close contact like rugby and wrestling may also get this infection regardless of age.

Impetigo is commonly known as school sore.

It is a contagious kind of skin infection and is characterized by blisters on face and hands. Occurrence of impetigo can be prevented by keeping care of good hygiene. Impetigo is mostly treated with antibiotic medicines.

What is the Cause of Impetigo?

Impetigo is caused by any of the following bacteria:

Group A streptococcus

Staphylococcus aureus

The most common group of people affected are, school-age children and preschool kids. This infection is more prevalent in summer months.

The risk of getting infected by impetigo is more is the child is already suffering from any skin injury or skin irritation or any other skin problem like insect bite, skin allergy, poison ivy or eczema. Impetigo often gets developed on a sore or rash which scratched repeatedly.

A person can get impetigo if he comes in contact with infected skin or any other items like clothing, towels, and bed linens which have been touched by infected skin.

What are the symptoms of Impetigo?

Any part of the skin can get affected by impetigo. Most common areas of infection are around the nose, mouth, hands and forearms.

In case of impetigo which is caused by group A Streptococcus, it starts with tiny blisters. Blisters expand gradually and eventually they burst out leaving small patches of raw and red skin which ooze fluid. After that, affected area is covered by tan or yellowish brown crust which appears like crust of honey or brown sugar.

In case of impetigo caused by staphylococcus aureus, larger blisters appear which are filled with fluid. That fluid appears clear and then cloudy. These blisters take longer time to burst; they stay as it is for long period on the skin.

Impetigo rashes may itch and when scratched, infection can spread. It is very common in kids who scratch the rashes and then touch other parts of the body.

What is the treatment For Impetigo?

It is a bacterial infection. Doctor often prescribes antibiotic ointment if the infection is in small area. But if impetigo is spread in many parts of the body and also topical medicine is not working effectively, then doctor has to prescribe oral antibiotic medicines.

Antibiotic treatment is the right course of treatment for impetigo. When the patient starts taking or applying antibiotic, healing of skin gets started within few days. The important thing is to follow the instructions and taking the medicine regularly as prescribed by the doctor otherwise a deeper skin infection or blood infection could develop.

It is necessary to wash the infected area daily using antiseptic soap and clean gauze while infection is getting better. You can soak affected are in warm soapy water to clean off the layers of crust though it is not must to remove all completely.

Other precaution doctor may recommend, especially in case of children, is to cover the affected areas of skin with gauze and bandage. And also keep the nails trimmed. These measures will prevent the child from scratching the rashes and spread it to other parts of the body.

How to Prevent Impetigo?

The most important thing to prevent infection of impetigo is to follow steps of good hygiene. Educate your kids to use soap and water to wash and clean their skin. And also kids should take bath daily.

While cleaning the skin, pay proper attention to the skin injuries like scrapes, cuts, bug bites, skin area affected with eczema, rashes caused by reaction or poison ivy. Always keep these injuries clean and covered.

If somebody in the family is affected by impetigo, should keep his impetigo rashes covered with gauze and tape. Also, they should keep fingernails trimmed to avoid scratching and spreading the infection.

One can prevent spread of impetigo infection within the family by use of antibacterial soaps. Also do not share personal items like towels, clothing, bedlinen and other things.

Keep the personal things like towel and clothing of the impetigo infected, separated to prevent spread of infection. And also wash these items in boiling water to kill bacteria completely.

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