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Definition

Impetigo is a contagious skin infection. It is a bacterial skin infection. It is also called Streptococcusor Staphylococcus. It is most common in children and is contagious. Impetigo forms round, crusted, oozing spots that grow larger day by day. They most commonly appear in summer and fall in children 2-6 years of age. It often starts at the site of a minor skin injury such as a graze, an insect bite, or scratched eczema.

When someone in a household has impetigo then it is heavy chances that the infection can be passed to other family members. In family members it spread through clothing, towels, and bed linens that have touched the infected person's skin. Infected children should not share towels or washcloths with others. The towels, sheets, and clothing of those with impetigo should be thoroughly laundered.

Causes

Two types of bacteria cause impetigo —

  • Staphylococcus aureus (staph), which is most common, and
  • Streptococcus pyogenes (strep).

When impetigo is caused by Group A streptococcus, it begins as tiny blisters. The blisters eventually burst to reveal small wet patches of red skin that may release fluid.Staph bacteria produce a toxin that causes impetigo to spread to nearby skin. The toxin attacks a protein that helps bind skin cells together. Once this protein is damaged, bacteria can spread quickly.

Symptoms

The most common is impetigo symptom contagiosa, which usually starts as a red sore on your child's face, most often around the nose and mouth. Impetigo develops most frequently on the legs, but may also be found on the arms, face and trunk. There is usually no fever.The disease is highly contagious, and scratching or touching the sores is likely to spread the infection to other parts of the body as well as to other people.

Treatment

Your doctor is likely to prescribe an oral antibiotic for ecthyma and severe cases of impetigo contagiosa. The specific antibiotic will depend on the severity of the infection and any allergies or conditions your child might have. The preferred antibiotic is the penicillin antibiotic, flucloxacillin. The complete course should be taken, usually at least 7 days.

Try not to scratch the sores because scratching can spread the infection to other parts of the body. You can help prevent scratching by keeping your child’s fingernails short and covering sores with gauze or bandages.

While the infection is healing, gently wash the areas of infected skin with clean gauze and antiseptic soap every day. Soak any areas of crusted skin in warm soapy water to help remove the layers of crust.

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