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Adeel Arshad

Authored on 24 January 2024 by Adeel Arshad,

Reviewed 24 January 2024 by Dr Ruch Karunadasa.

What Is Impetigo?

Impetigo is quite a common skin condition and is a contagious bacterial infection involving the superficial layer of the skin. The culprit is commonly a Staphylococcus Bacterium, which infects your skin, resulting in little sores that burst and eventually form honey-coloured crusts. Other bacteria that can cause impetigo include group A streptococci.

Impetigo is most common in children aged 2 to 6 years. Older adults, as well as younger individuals, experience similar symptoms, ranging from itchy to painful sores, that surround your mouth and nose. This highly contagious skin infection can spread through touch along with clothing or towels. The bacteria can also enter your skin through a cut or wound Nasal discharge can also spread this infection.

Typically, impetigo shows up as single or multiple blisters that burst easily leaving painful raw skin, oozing out pus, and forming a crust. Moreover, a rash might appear around your lips, nose, or on your limbs.

Some factors might increase your risk of developing impetigo. If you spend time in schools or nurseries, you are at higher risk of catching it as the condition is common in children. Living in humid climates, with hot summers and mild winters, also increases your risk of getting infected. Poor hygiene practices might significantly increase the risk of impetigo. If you have eczema or Diabetes, you are more prone to this infection.

Your doctor will commonly diagnose the condition from examination and taking a medical history. A simple photo can sometimes suffice.

Treatment of Impetigo

Your doctor might prescribe you antibiotics to manage the ongoing bacterial infection. Most commonly these will be topical but for more severe cases, oral antibiotics may be required. Commonly prescribed topical antibiotics include mupirocin (Bactroban) ointment and Fucidin.

The topical treatment works well if you soak the skin area in warm water and remove scabs so that the ointment can easily enter your skin. Applying this ointment 3 times a day for 5-10 days might improve the symptoms. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed in severe cases where larger skin areas are involved.

Lifestyle changes that limit the disease spread include, avoiding crowded areas when you have the symptoms, using a non-stick bandage for covering the sores, and not sharing personal items. Take care of yourself while you complete the treatment, by staying clean, avoiding touching the skin area affected, and isolating yourself from the crowded areas

Prevention plays a huge role in controlling the spread of impetigo. Some ways you can avoid this infection are, by practising good hygiene keeping your hands clean and bathing daily. Clipping your child's nails might help in preventing scratch wounds. Clean your wounds whenever you acquire an injury or a cut. Washing your clothes regularly and wearing clean undergarments might help avoid impetigo.

Skin consultation £19.99

Skin consultation £19.99

Our simple consultation first process enables you to complete a consultation with a doctor, submitting photos of the affected skin and answering a set of questions that will enable a diagnosis where possible.

Common skin conditions can even include:

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Frequently asked questions about Impetigo

  • When do the symptoms of impetigo appear?

    Signs generally appear around 3 to 4 days after the initial contact but it can be sooner.

  • How much time does impetigo take to go away?

    Skin sores might take some time to go away and heal. Following your treatment plan might help these sores heal more quickly.

  • Impetigo is contagious for how long?

    Until the scabs fall off, the rash vanishes, and your course of treatment is completed, you might be contagious. This might last for weeks after the start of treatment.

  • Can impetigo reoccur?

    Reinfection is quite common in impetigo. Avoiding scratching and practising good hygiene might be useful.

  • What are the complications of Impetigo?

    Rarely, impetigo might get complicated, by infecting the deeper layers of the skin. Moreover, when the causative bacterium is streptococcus, you might develop kidney disease. Consult your doctor if you experience any change in your urine colour.

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