Impetigo

Helping your child feel better from impetigo

Impetigo is a skin condition caused by bacteria. It is a highly infectious disease, most commonly seen in children, and can be very painful and disfiguring to the person who has the illness. Impetigo is most often spread by close contact, through sports or other forms of contact activities. It is primarily caused by Staphylococcus aureus, and sometimes by Streptococcus pyogenes, two forms of bacteria that can be quite serious.

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What is impetigo?

There are two forms of this disease, bullous impetigo, which strikes children younger than two years, and ecthymia, which occurs in older children. The first form of impetigo is generally painless, while the second form can be quite painful and hard to treat, and is highly contagious and can be reoccurring.

Impetigo symptoms

Symptoms of bullous impetigo include the appearance of painless, fluid-filled blisters on the skin. The skin around the blister is normally red and itchy, but generally not sore. The blisters will break and form a yellow crust, and are generally not bothersome to the child. This type of impetigo may last longer than ecthymia, but is not painful and rarely scarring.

In ecthymia, the appearance of the sores is quite a bit worse. This is because the infection penetrates deeper into the dermis, or second layer of the skin. Symptoms include deep ulcers on the legs and feet, a thick grey-yellow crust that covers the sores, swollen lymph glands, and deep scarring. Tiny holes may appear after the crust falls off the sores.

Impetigo treatment

Impetigo used to be treated with the antiseptic gentian violet liquid, which is still used for thrush. However, doctors will probably prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to combat the bacterial infection. Other creams may also be prescribed to soothe the sores and clear up the crust to minimize scarring. As impetigo can be quite painful, doctors may also prescribe painkillers to help with this.

Staph infections can be very serious. If your child's impetigo is not clearing up with normal antibiotics, it is advisable to go to the hospital for more aggressive treatment. Impetigo can be scarring and painful, so it is also very important to have this infection treated before it gets worse.