Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection. It is very common in pre-school children, usually in children between the ages of two and six. However, it can also occur in adults, especially those involved in contact sports such as American football, rugby and wrestling. Bacteria are part of the normal flora of the skin. Impetigo begins when bacteria gets into a break in the skin and can be left on its own or treated with antibiotics. However, impetigo may also occur on the skin with no visible break. It usually appears on the exposed area of the skin, however, may still manifest anywhere in the body. In children, they are often found in the face, especially the area surrounding the nose and mouth.
It is important to avoid wound infection in all cases. To learn more on how to treat wounds and avoid infections, register for the next first aid training courses to better equip self with knowledge in times of need.
There are two main types of impetigo:
- Bullous impetigo
- Large, painless, fluid-filled blisters
- Non-bullous impetigo
- More contagious
- Sores that easily burst, creating yellow-brown crusts
Impetigo is caused by two types of bacteria, staphylococcal and streptococcal, both of which are commonly found in the environment and on the surface of human skin.Staphylococcus aureusis the most common cause of impetigo. A child with an open wound or any break in the skin can easily contract impetigo. The bacteria then enter the inner layer of the skin where they grow and multiply. Some of the most common causes of breaks in the skin are the following:
- Animal bites
- Human bites
- Insect bites
- Injury to the skin
Symptoms are usually pronounced and thus doctors can easily diagnose impetigo. Some of the symptoms include:
- Red, pimple-like sores, usually in the face, but also found in the arms and legs
- Begins as tiny blisters that break and expose moist, red skin
- After a few days, infected area becomes covered in grainy, gold crust that slowly extends to the edges
- Mildly painful
- Itching, which can actually spread the sores by scratching
- Fairly sharp margin rashes
- Swollen lymph nodes
- In extreme cases,
- Small, pus-filled bumps with darker and thicker crusts
- Very itchy
Impetigo can heal on its own, even without antibiotics given. Healing period, without antibiotics, usually takes two to three weeks. However, antibiotic medications are usually prescribed to speed healing and avoid spread of infection. With antibiotic medications, people with impetigo are no longer contagious after 48 hours of initial treatment. There are several ways of reducing risks of impetigo spreading. These include:
- Avoid touching, especially scratching, the sores
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water.
- Do not share towels or sheets.
- The best key is prevention, thus, when a child has any type of skin injury, from scratches to open wound, give proper first aid for these.
- Stop the bleeding by applying direct pressure.
- Thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water.
- Apply antibiotic creams and ointments to avoid infection.
If not suspected of wound infection, cover with a bandage to prevent infection, such as impetigo.