Impetigo, a superficial bacterial skin infection

It is one of the most common contagious infections affecting adults and especially children who have direct contact with other infected skin or objects such as toys, household goods, clothing, and linens.

Bacteria or Impetigo and Children

When there is a break in the skin from a bug bite, small cut, or skinning of the elbow, microscopic bacteria can get below the surface, growing and creating a blíster. This blíster fills with a fluid called pus and bursts, leaving a crust.

Impetigo is caused by two types of bacteria: staphylococcus (Staph) and streptococcus (strep) bacteria. Both of these bacteria forms are commonly found on the skin surface as well as in the environment. While impetigo can manifest itself anywhere on the body, it usually appears in the form of sores or blisters on the hands, neck, face, and in the diaper area of young children. There are two types of blisters:

1. Non-bullous impetigo

This form is more common and is found on the face, usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus. These blisters start out small and resemble bug bites but within one week, they turn into small blisters that scab over with a honey-colored crust.

2. Bullous impetigo

This form of impetigo can be found on the buttocks and the trunk of the body. Large, yellowish fluid fills the fragile blisters. If and when they break, the skin is red and raw, leaving a crust. The edges of the rash are usually rough and can be jagged or sharp. Sometimes, it can be painful and itchy but rest assured, impetigo blisters will eventually heal.

Children are commonly infected with impetigo if they have other skin issues such as eczema, hives, and insect bite. This is especially true for children between the ages of two and seven. Repetitive itching can turn into an infection and finally into impetigo.

It is important to note that impetigo is easy to treat using prescription-strength antibiotic ointment mupirocin found in brands such as Bactroban.

This is typically used on small areas of impetigo breakout. Nonprescription topical antibiotic ointments are not always effective. Oral antibiotics are typically prescribed for multiple areas of infection or extreme cases.

Because many bacteria are forming resistance capabilities to antibiotics, culture tests may be given to determine the proper oral antibiotic prescription for each case. Antibiotics containing penicillin have been proven helpful. Whatever the treatment, it is highly recommended to follow the instructions for use for the full term to prevent further infection. Once the blisters begin to heal, redness may continue for a few weeks but scarring is rare.

Also, it is a good idea to wash the infected area each day with antiseptic soap. This will loosen the crusty areas. To prevent impetigo from reaching other areas of the body, wash your hands frequently and bathe or shower regularly. A physician will give additional instructions that could include covering areas with medical tape and gauze or a loss of plastic bag. Nails ought to be kept clean and short. Should an infection persist after three days of treatment or a fever continue, then contact a physician immediately. Also, if the rash becomes hot and sensitive to the touch then you will need to see a doctor as soon as possible.

If there are others in the home who are not infected with impetigo, then have them use antibacterial soap, hot water, and separate towels and linens. To prevent future outbreaks in your home, school, or office, practice routine handwashing with soap and hot water.

Complications of impetigo are glomerulonephritis, which is a condition producing kidney inflammation. It is not guaranteed that treating impetigo will prevent glomerulonephritis entirely.

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