Children always seem to have a rash, scrape or some type of skin irritation and one of the most common (and contagious) is impetigo. It is a skin infection that children primarily get which pops up on the face, around the mouth and nose.
Bacteria are the primary culprit and typically enter through a cut or bite but impetigo has been known to occur on unblemished skin as well.
What is Impetigo
Impetigo is rather identifiable with its red sores which break open quickly, ooze for a while and then forms a brownish crust. It is important to note that impetigo is highly contagious and when kids touch and scratch (which is usually inevitable) they spread the infection not only to other people they touch but also to other parts of the body too.
These sores usually will clear up within a few weeks on their own, but if a child needs to return to school or daycare, antibiotic therapy is usually required. Once the antibiotics have been used for over 24 hours, the risk of passing the infection greatly decreases so that kids can return to school or day care.
The best defense when it comes to impetigo is a good offense washing hands with soap and water as well as getting under the fingernails. Also, it is important to flush out any scratch, scrape or bug bite and apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
Three Types of Impetigo
The most common type of impetigo is called impetigo contagiosa which is the typical red sore on the facial area that oozes and then crusts over. Once the crust is gone, there is a red mark left that eventually fades away with no scarring. These sores are itchy but rarely painful and do not cause fever.
Bullous impetigo are blisters filled with infected fluid over the arms, legs and trunk of the body. Typically children under two are most affected. As with the sores, these blisters will rupture and form a scab. The only difference is that these crusty scabs will last longer than the red sores.
The most serious form of impetigo called ecthyma goes deep into the dermis or second layer of the skin and can be scarring. These fluid filled sores are often found on the feet or legs and could turn into ulcers. Often swollen lymph nodes can occur and could include mild fever. These sores form a grayish-yellow scab that is slow to heal.
If the case of impetigo is very mild, the doctor may just suggest self-treatment using proper cleanliness practices such as washing with soap and water and keeping nails short and free of debris. Over the counter antibiotic ointment may be used as well.
For regular cases of impetigo, prescription topical antibiotics may be used like Bactroban to apply directly onto the sores. If the child is relatively good about not scratching or touching the sores, the ointment is a good course of action.
However, if the child is relatively young or the impetigo is a bit more advanced, oral antibiotics are primarily prescribed. Proper hygiene and immediate care of wounds and bites are the best preventative measures that a person can take to prevent the contraction of impetigo in the first place.