Impetigo is a common skin infection. It is caused by bacteria and is seen most often in children. The disease is characterized by raised red bumps on the face or arms that eventually turn into weeping blisters.
Most cases of impetigo are caused by the bacteria staphylococcus, or a staph infection, but some are also caused by the bacteria streptococcus. Impetigo caused by staph often has liquid-filled blisters that break easily and eventually crust over. Blisters are not as commonly seen when the infection is caused by the strep bacteria, but the bumps still generally crust over with time.
Impetigo usually starts in children with a cut, scratch or an insect bite, but then is spread on the skin through constant scratching at the growing sore. It is highly contagious and can be easily spread from child to child through physical contact.
Complications of Impetigo
Though unpleasant, impetigo is generally easy to treat and tends to resolve without complications or scarring. Still, there are a few unique situations to be aware of. For example, impetigo is sometimes accompanied by diarrhea, fever or swollen glands. And in rare instances, it can lead to a serious kidney complication called glomerulonephritis. This is characterized by blood in the urine or dark-colored urine.
Prevention and Treatment
In most situations, however, you can prevent the spread of impetigo with good hygiene practices, avoiding cuts and scrapes, and steering clear of others with an impetigo infection. When it does occur, it needs to be treated with a course of antibiotics that are prescribed by a doctor. This prescription regimen may include both antibiotics taken by mouth and applied to the skin. It’s important that an individual with impetigo takes the full course of antibiotics, or there’s a chance that the infection could return if it is not fully resolved.
SOURCES: American Family Physician; American Academy of Pediatrics.