What To Look Out For When Suffering Impetigo

skinImpetigo is a relatively common skin condition, which is highly contagious. Impetigo is most common among children and it tends to cause the skin to become sore and blistered.

What causes impetigo?

Impetigo is caused by bacteria; in the UK, most cases are associated with a strain of bacteria caused by staphylococcus aureus, but it can also be caused by streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. Infections can be primary or secondary; primary infections occur when the skin is damaged and bacteria are able to invade the skin directly; this may happen when you have an insect bite, a graze or cut. Secondary infections occur as a result of another issue, which causes the skin to be invaded; examples include scabies and head lice.

Impetigo is infectious and it can be passed from person to person through skin to skin contact and using towels or sheets that have been used by a person with impetigo.

Often, symptoms do not appear for around 4 days after infection, so in many cases, impetigo is spread without the individual even knowing that they have it.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of impetigo tend to develop between 4 and 10 days after infection. There are two types of impetigo: bullous and non-bullous impetigo. Symptoms of bullous impetigo include the appearance of fluid-filled blisters, which usually form on the chest, stomach and back. The blisters spread quickly and crust over, after bursting; they are not usually painful, but the affected area of skin may be itchy. Symptoms of non-bullous impetigo include red sores, which are usually found on the face and neck. The blisters burst, causing the skin to become red, but this usually fades and most people do not suffer scarring.

Treating impetigo

If you have impetigo, it is important to take steps to prevent the spread of infection; avoid sharing towels or cloths, wash your hands frequently and avid skin to skin contact until your skin has healed.

There are treatments available for impetigo, but often, the skin clears up without the need for treatment. Most people find that their impetigo clears without needing any treatment within 3 weeks; however, it is advisable for children to see a doctor as the symptoms can be similar to other, more serious skin conditions.

Antibiotics are used to treat impetigo; antibiotics can be administered in tablet or topical cream form.

Preventing impetigo

The best way to prevent impetigo is to avoid contact with an infected person; avoid sharing towels and keep children off nursery or school if they have impetigo. If you have impetigo, avoid touching the skin and keep your skin clean; it is important to wash your hands frequently, especially after touching your skin.