Impetigo is a type of bacterial infection on the skin. It is common to children. The infection is caused by two bacteria: Group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus.
- Age: it affects children between 2 to 5 years of age.
- Injuries or infections that break the skin: patients with scabies infections can get impetigo more easily. Avoid closed contact activities. Examples are sports such as basketball, baseball, football, etc. You can be infected when you touch the sore and come in contact with the body fluid from the sore.
- Climate: Impetigo is common in humid, hot summers and winters but not in too cold weather. Also common in the tropics that have a wet and dry season.
- Crowding: Skin to skin contact poses a higher risk of infection. It spreads in a household or could spread with a larger crowd, for example in daycare centers or schools.
- Hygiene: Poor personal hygiene could put someone at risk of getting infected.
- Immunosuppression: some conditions such as diabetes can cause a weakened immune system. It may lead to ecthyma (deep impetigo) if not treated right away.
Signs and Symptoms
- The infection is around the nose, mouth, arms, or legs
- Red, itchy sores that break, and leak clear fluid. It may develop pus for a few days
- Crusty yellow scab forms over the sore that heals without leaving a scar
- Takes 10 days before the sore appears when infected by Group A strep
- Mild itching pain or soreness
- Bullous impetigo: not seen often. This type develops large blisters seen on the trunks of children and infants.
- Ecthyma: a different form of impetigo. This form may infiltrate deep into the skin. This may cause painful sores that have pus or fluid discharges. This can lead to deep ulcers if not treated right away.
Doctors assess a patient through a physical exam. You don’t need any laboratory exam for this. Yet, laboratory tests are needed if the infection has worsened.
Impetigo is treated with the use of antibiotics. Either topical (antibiotics rubbed on the sores) or oral (taken by mouth). The doctor may prescribe topical ointments or cream. This should contain bacitracin as a home remedy. For a few sores, the recommended topical antibiotics are mupirocin or retapamulin. As for sores that are too many, oral antibiotics are prescribed.
- Check the patient for fever. This can be a sign of impending infection.
- Prevent further infection with proper hygiene and rigorous cleaning.
- Promote the habit of handwashing. Wash before eating, after use of the bathroom, and if one came in contact with the body fluid. It is recommended to wash hands or exposed areas using granular soap or liquid soap. Wash the exposed area under a stream of water for 15 to 20 seconds after routine patient care.
- Educate the patient to have a balanced diet. Eating nutritious meals every day will boost the immune system.
- Inform the patient about the benefits of sleep to the body and avoid stress.
- Remind the patient and the caregiver about disinfection and sterilization. Things inside the house should be disinfected to avoid further infection.