What are the symptoms and treatment options for impetigo?

Symptom Database

Impetigo is a common skin infection that primarily affects children, but can also occur in adults. It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly through direct contact or by touching contaminated objects. In this article, we will explore the symptoms and treatment options for impetigo, as well as discuss home remedies, prevention strategies, and natural remedies.

Impetigo Symptoms

The symptoms of impetigo can vary depending on the type of infection. There are two main types of impetigo: non-bullous impetigo and bullous impetigo.

Non-Bullous Impetigo

Non-bullous impetigo is the most common form of impetigo. It typically starts with red sores or blisters that quickly burst and leave behind a yellowish-brown crust. These sores are usually found around the mouth and nose, but can also appear on other parts of the body. The crusts are not painful, but they may be itchy.

Bullous Impetigo

Bullous impetigo is less common but more severe than non-bullous impetigo. It is characterized by larger blisters that are filled with fluid. These blisters may be clear at first, but they eventually turn cloudy or yellow. The skin around the blisters may appear red and swollen. Bullous impetigo commonly affects the buttocks, trunk, and diaper area in infants and young children.

Impetigo Causes

Impetigo is primarily caused by two types of bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. These bacteria can enter the body through cuts, insect bites, or other breaks in the skin. Impetigo is more likely to occur in warm and humid environments, as well as in crowded places such as schools and daycare centers.

Impetigo Treatment

Impetigo can usually be treated with antibiotics, either in the form of topical creams or oral medications. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the infection and the age of the patient.

Topical Antibiotics

For mild cases of impetigo, topical antibiotics are often prescribed. These creams or ointments are applied directly to the affected areas of the skin. Commonly used topical antibiotics include mupirocin and fusidic acid. It is important to follow the instructions provided by the healthcare professional and complete the full course of treatment to ensure the infection is fully eradicated.

Oral Antibiotics

In more severe cases or when the infection has spread, oral antibiotics may be necessary. These medications are taken by mouth and work to kill the bacteria from within the body. Commonly prescribed oral antibiotics for impetigo include penicillin, erythromycin, and cephalexin. It is crucial to take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if the symptoms improve, to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

Impetigo Home Remedies

In addition to medical treatment, there are several home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of impetigo and promote healing. However, it is important to note that these remedies should not replace medical treatment and should be used in conjunction with prescribed medications.

  • Keep the affected areas clean by gently washing with mild soap and water.
  • Apply warm compresses to the sores to help remove crusts and promote healing.
  • Avoid scratching or picking at the sores to prevent further infection.
  • Keep the affected areas covered with sterile gauze or bandages to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • Wash hands regularly and avoid sharing personal items such as towels, clothing, and toys.

Impetigo Prevention

Preventing the spread of impetigo is essential to protect yourself and others from infection. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  • Maintain good personal hygiene by regularly washing hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid close contact with individuals who have impetigo until their infection has cleared.
  • Keep cuts, scrapes, and insect bites clean and covered with a sterile bandage.
  • Wash and disinfect personal items regularly, especially if someone in the household has impetigo.
  • Encourage children to practice good hygiene habits, such as not sharing personal items and covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Impetigo Natural Remedies

While natural remedies may not cure impetigo on their own, they can help soothe symptoms and support the healing process. Here are some natural remedies that may be beneficial:

  • Tea tree oil: Dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil and apply it to the affected areas to help kill bacteria.
  • Manuka honey: Apply manuka honey directly to the sores to promote healing and prevent infection.
  • Garlic: Crush garlic cloves and apply the paste to the affected areas to help fight bacteria.
  • Essential oils: Certain essential oils, such as lavender and chamomile, can help soothe itching and inflammation.

In conclusion, impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that can be effectively treated with antibiotics. It is important to recognize the symptoms of impetigo and seek medical treatment promptly to prevent the spread of infection. In addition to medical treatment, practicing good hygiene, using home remedies, and taking preventive measures can help manage and prevent impetigo.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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