Impetigo is a common skin infection. This condition is contagious so it can be spread via touching or other contact, so if you contract impetigo avoid public settings until you are no longer contagious. Most of the time it occurs in children, but it can affect people of any age. Most of the times, an antibiotic cream will quickly clear up the infection but in some cases liquid medications or antibiotic tablets are also necessary.
Types and Symptoms of Impetigo
Types of Impetigo
This refers to nonbullous impetigo and is the most common variety that affects children. It is incredibly contagious and usually starts as red sores near the mouth and nose. The blisters burst and leave a red, weeping rash which crusts over. Although itchy, the rash isn’t painful. Swollen lymph nodes may develop.
This type of impetigo is the most common for kids under two. It starts with blisters on the legs, arms, and torso. The blisters can be clear before turning cloudy. These blisters usually last longer than those caused by other varieties of impetigo and the area surrounding them can be itchy and red.
This type of impetigo is the most serious as it affects the skin’s second layer in addition to the top one. Blisters are painful and can become aggravated open sores or ulcers. There may also be scars and swollen lymph nodes.
When to Seek Medical Advice
Always contact your doctor if you notice your child shows signs of impetigo, particularly if he was exposed to someone else with this infection. When your child is being treated for the condition, watch the sores and contact your doctor if the skin doesn’t start healing after three days or if your child develops a fever. Also be sure to contact the doctor if the area near the rash becomes tender, warm, or red as this may indicate some sort of complication that needs attention. Your doctor may change a medication or treatment methods.
Treatments for Impetigo
The most common medication for impetigo in small patches is an antibiotic cream which you use for seven to ten days. Usually this is a topical fusidic acid (like Fucidin) and another option is a topical mupirocin (like Bactroban). Before applying the cream, clean off the crusts using warm soapy water so the antibiotic can penetrate the skin.
Sometimes your doctor will prescribe antibiotic tablets or liquid medicine depending on the situation. This is more common in cases where you have a weak immune system, the rash is widespread, or you are generally feeling unwell (with swollen lymph glands and fever). In this case, you will probably be prescribed oral flucloxacillin to take for seven days. Those with penicillin allergies can take oral clarithromycin.
2. Be Careful Not to Spread the Infection
Keep in mind that impetigo is a contagious. So do the following:
- Do not touch the impetigo patches and don’t let other children touch them
- Anytime you touch the impetigo or apply an antibiotic cream, wash your hands
- Don’t share any bathwater, flannels, or towels until the infection clears
- Keep infected children out of school until the blistering and crusting are gone or two days after starting their antibiotics
Home Remedies for Impetigo
- Soak Affected Area Using Mixed Fluid: Create your own homemade and natural antibiotic solution with a tablespoon of white distilled vinegar and two cups of water. Soak the area affected for fifteen minutes regularly. This reduces the infection and helps eliminate the scabs.
- Apply Oils: Specific oils, such as those extracted from myrrh, tea tree, and olive, help kill the bacteria which cause the infection when they are applied topically on the infected areas.
- Eat Honey: Honey has antiseptic properties so if you have a couple spoons of it before you eat each meal, you will notice improvement. The honey helps your body better fight off the bacteria causing the infection.
- Use Antibiotic Ointment or Cream: In the case of minor infections that are focused in one area, you can try to treat the sores using an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment or cream containing bacitracin. Then place a nonstick bandage on top of the area to prevent the spreading of the sores.
How to Prevent Impetigo
The best way to prevent impetigo is by practicing good hygiene. In order to do this,
- Wash your hands regularly
- Shower or bathe regularly
- Clean and then cover any skin injuries that you have
If you already have impetigo, you should take steps to make sure that it does not spread to other people or even to other areas of your body. Some simple steps to prevent this condition from spreading include the following:
- Do not share any of your personal hygiene items.
- Avoid schools or childcare centers while your infection is still contagious.
- Keep your fingernails short.
- Clean all of the surface areas within your home using antibacterial products.
- Wash your clothes and linens using hot water.
- Dry your hands or body using a fresh paper towel or a clean towel. If it is not a paper towel, be sure no one else will accidentally use it.
- Wash your hands using antibacterial soap.
Here is a short video to watch that explains what impetigo is as well as how it is treated. It also explains the symptoms as well as how to prevent this infection from spreading.