By printing and/or reading this article, you agree that you accept all terms and conditions of use, as specified online.
Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. (Read about "Microorganisms") According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is usually caused either by group A streptococci, the same bacteria that causes strep throat (Read about "Strep Throat"), or Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which is also known as "staph" (Read about "Staph and MRSA"). It can affect skin (Read about "Skin") anywhere on the body but usually shows up first around the nose and mouth.
Impetigo can happen at any age. However, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), impetigo most often infects school age children. It is also more common during hot and humid weather. Skin that is already irritated from other conditions - such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites or allergies - is more likely to become infected. (Read about "Eczema and Dermatitis" "Allergies" "Insect Bites" "Bed Bugs")
Impetigo may look like a rash. (Read about "Skin Rash") According to AMA, impetigo may first appear as tiny sores, often around the nose or mouth. The sores will eventually break open and the skin underneath them may ooze fluid. A thick, yellow-brown discharge will then dry and crust over the affected area. AMA says the crust makes the affected area look as if it has been coated with honey or brown sugar. Some types of impetigo cause fluid-filled blisters, which can also break and scab over.
According to CDC, impetigo can be spread from one area on a person's body to another area through direct contact with sores and discharge on the skin, like through scratching. Impetigo can also be spread from one person to another, especially among people who spend time in close contact with one another, like family members or children in childcare facilities and schools. It can spread very quickly.
Impetigo is usually treated with antibiotics (Read about "Antibiotics"), which may be taken by mouth or spread on the affected area as an ointment. Wear gloves when applying a topical ointment and wash hands afterwards. According to AMA, the affected areas should be washed twice a day with antiseptic soap and covered. It is also important to remember to take the full treatment of the antibiotics even if the sores heal earlier.
AMA reports that healing usually begins within three days. They suggest that a child with impetigo may return to school or childcare once the child is no longer contagious, usually about 48 hours after treatment begins.
To prevent the spread of impetigo CDC recommends that caregivers:
It's important to remember that even though children are the ones usually affected by impetigo, anyone, of any age can catch it, and as a result infect others.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
© Concept Communications Media Group LLC