What Is Impetigo And Is It Harmful?
Impetigo is a skin infection that is contagious in nature.
It tends to mainly affect children and infants and usually appears on the face. The skin will show red sores and as time goes on they can burst and form a crust. It can occur in many different areas of the body in some cases though.
The usual treatment for impetigo is antibiotics and most schools and childcare centres will have a strict policy whereby children must stay home until they are no longer contagious (usually 24 hours after the antibiotic started).
When impetigo spreads to other parts of the body it has usually been spread by hands, clothing or towels.
As impetigo is highly contagious, the reason your child got it is usually because they were in close contact with someone else who was infected. It may have been through sharing toys or clothes for example. It is a bacterial infection that spreads rapidly.
Your child is most likely to contract impetigo when they are between the ages of two and five. This is why the condition is so common in pre-school environments. Interestingly, the condition is more common during the summer months as this kind of bacteria thrives in humid conditions.
When impetigo spreads it is quite often through broken skin. Something as small as a paper cut or an insect bite can be enough to introduce the bacteria into your bloodstream.
While it’s impossible to completely avoid the risk of your child developing impetigo it can help to be mindful of caring for cuts and scrapes on your children’s skin. Keeping your children’s nails short and clean can also make a difference as dirt and bacteria often get trapped and travel in this way for children.
Encouraging your children to regularly wash their hands and trying to limit towel sharing can help prevent the spread of this skin condition.
Impetigo is not dangerous for the most part. It usually causes mild discomfort in the form of itching and irritation but it generally comes and goes without any complications. In extremely rare cases, impetigo can lead to cellulitis which is a serious skin infection that affects the tissues in your skin.
It can travel through your bloodsteam and potentially be life-threatening but is very rare.
It may be very difficult to prevent your child from scratching the sores but it is important to try. It will only encourage it to spread and will slow down the healing process.
A doctor will usually diagnose impetigo by its appearance alone. They will first ensure that it is not another skin condition such as ringworm, scabies or chicken pox as in the beginning stages many skin conditions can have similarities in appearance.
A topical antibiotic cream will be prescribed and in certain cases an oral antibiotic may be required also.
Impetigo usually clears up completely and rarely leaves any kind of scarring. When the redness dies down and the crusted sores go away the skin will return to its normal state. This usually happens in a matter of days.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.com.