What is impetigo?
Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the skin. A break in the skin from a cut or a scrape creates an environment where bacteria can grow and spread. Patients with eczema and itchy skin also often develop impetigo because of scratching the skin. Impetigo is most commonly seen in young children especially preschool and school age children.
Athletes – regardless of age – who play contact sports are also more susceptible to these bacterial infections.
How can I tell it is impetigo?
The yellow-gold or ‘honey colored’ crust on a wound suggests bacterial infection, or impetigo. These infections are often itchy as well, but it is important to avoid scratching as this can cause the infection to spread. Impetigo is most common around the nose and mouth, hands and forearms, and in young children, the diaper area.
A less common form of impetigo presents with small fluid-filled blisters, so-called Bullous Impetigo. When these blisters pop they will then demonstrate the same honey colored crust. These are often not painful.
Is impetigo dangerous?
Impetigo on its own is not dangerous, and typically responds well to treatment. If left untreated, however, infection can spread and lead to more serious skin infections and/or scarring.
What is the treatment?
If an infection is mild, sometimes just keeping a wound clean with soap and water is all that is required. More often, however, we will prescribe an antibiotic cream or course of oral antibiotics to treat the infection.
Encourage children to wash their hands and faces to prevent infection. Keep wounds clean and covered and keep fingernails short to prevent spread of infection to other parts of the body - or to other people.