What is Impetigo?
Impetigo is an infection of the skin caused primarily by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (GABS). Sometimes another bacterium, Staphylococcus aureus, can also be isolated from impetigo lesions.
Symptoms of Impetigo
Impetigo shows up as a rash that may occur anywhere on the body and commonly affects the face and other exposed areas of the body.
- The rash may be blisterlike, reddish, have a “honey” colored crust, or very commonly will have a combination of all 3. Click on these links to see examples: Impetigo rash with blisters; Impetigo rash; Impetigo rash, red; Impetigo rash with crust.
- The margins of the rash are usually fairly sharp.
- The rash is sometimes mildly painful and is commonly itchy.
Causes of Impetigo
When impetigo is caused by group A streptococcus, it begins as tiny blisters. These blisters eventually burst and leave small wet patches of red skin that may weep fluid. Gradually, a tan or yellowish-brown crust covers the affected area, making it look like it has been coated with honey or brown sugar.
Impetigo that is caused by staphylococcus aureus triggers larger fluid-containing blisters that appear clear, then cloudy. These blisters are more likely to stay intact longer on the skin without bursting.
Treatment of Impetigo
Impetigo may be treated with an antibiotic taken by mouth or by application of an antibiotic ointment to the affected areas.
- Clean all sores and bites with antibacterial soap and water. Don’t scratch or pick.
- The infection is contagious. Other people may contract the infection if you come in contact with them. Use separate wash cloths and hand towels.
- Often, the rash and infection will go away on its own, but antibiotics are usually needed to get rid of the infection.
- You may apply antibacterial ointment, but wash your hands well after applying it.
- If the sores are in areas you shave (men on their face; women on their legs), shave around the sores so you won’t spread the infection further.
- Oral: The most common types of antibiotics taken as pills are special types of penicillin or related medications called cephalosporins. If you have a penicillin allergy, the treatment is usually with erythromycin (or other similar medicines such as clarithromycin (Biaxin) or azithromycin (Zithromax)).
- Topical: Topical antibiotic treatment is with a medication called mupirocin (Bactroban).
Good Advice Of Impetigo
Cut your child’s nails short and encourage them not to scratch their scabs, pick their nose, bite their nails or suck their fingers.
- If your child already has eczema seek advice and effective treatment.
- Always remember to wash your hands after having touched your own or your child’s scabs.
- Teach your child to wash his or her hands regularly and always give them their own facecloth and towel.
- Explain to your child why they need to pay special attention to hygiene and avoid touching their scabs.
Prevent Tips Of Impetigo
Simple cleanliness and prompt attention to minor wounds will do much to prevent impetigo. Persons with impetigo or symptoms of GABS infections should seek medical care and if necessary begin antibiotic treatment as soon as possible to prevent spread to others. Individuals with impetigo should be excluded from school, day care, or other situations where close person-to-person contact is likely to occur until at least 24 hours after beginning appropriate antibiotic therapy. Sharing of towels, clothing, and other personal articles should be discouraged.