Impetigo is an infection of the skin caused by staphylococci bacteria, or streptococci bacteria. It causes red sores that typically form around the mouth and nose. It can cause yellowish sores that crack and ooze before developing a hardened yellow crust. Impetigo is typically found in children but also affects adults less commonly.
Impetigo is actually one of the most common afflictions among children because of children's frequent close contact with one another. Impetigo is easily transmitted from child to child when items are shared in group settings, like blankets, toys, and books.
Symptoms of Impetigo
There are two types of impetigo. Non-bullous Impetigo is the most common form. It is caused by both staphylococci (staph) and streptococci (strep) bacteria. The symptoms for this form of the illness include blisters that form into honey-colored or yellow crusts. They typically form around the mouth and nose but can also spread to the legs. Glands often can grow swollen around outbreak areas.
Bullous Impetigo is caused by staph bacteria that produce a toxin causing a break between the epidermis and the lower levels of the skin. This is what causes the blisters ("bulla" is the medical term for "blister") to form. These can appear anywhere, but they often seem to appear on the buttocks. These blisters are fragile and often break or pop, leaving the area red and sore. Care must be used when cleaning and caring for these infected areas.
One potential problem that might occur from long term infection is a condition called "glomerulonephritis," which commonly affects the kidneys, producing inflammation. Treating the impetigo does not necessarily rid the patient of glomerulonephritis. However, glomerulonephritis is very uncommon and is not a life threatening condition.
How Impetigo is Contracted
Unlike other skin disorders such as Eczema this condition is contagious. It is spread by not only coming into contact with a person's infected area or any seepage from that area, but it also can come touching a toy, towel, clothes, or household items that the infected person may have come in contact with. It is not unusual to hear of mini-epidemics breaking out in day care centers.
Typically, the streptococci and staphylococci bacteria enter the body through scrapes on the skin, like when a child has a cold or allergies and rubs their nose because it is raw. This can lead to impetigo as the cracks and fissures in the skin can be easily infected. Furthermore, those with skin issues such as eczema are susceptible to impetigo. Also, those with burns, cuts, chickenpox, insect bites, poison ivy, are also in danger (though again mainly children are susceptible). On a disturbing note though, cases of impetigo have been reported on healthy skin as well.
Taking Special Care to Diagnosis Impetigo
Many other conditions resemble impetigo. These conditions include scabies, or ringworm. Not every bump or scab that oozes is necessarily infected so even seemingly obvious symptoms can lead to a misdiagnosis. Some common conditions that can resemble impetigo outbreaks include:
Impetigo can only be safely and accurately diagnosed by a doctor or qualified medical professional. Medical professionals often run a battery of tests which include several different blood tests. These help to determine the exact cause of the issue.
Impetigo can be treated by gently cleaning the infected area with soap and water. A topical cream, available by prescription, is available and is frequently prescribed for mild to moderate cases of impetigo.
Impetigo is a skin disorder that is caused by staph or strep bacteria. It mainly affects children but can affect adults. There are two types of impetigo -- non-bullous and bullous.
Bullous impetigo usually requires prescribed antibiotics. The cream that is normally applied to infected areas is called Mupirocin. Typical antibiotics used to combat the various forms of this condition include Penicillin and its derivatives: Keflex, Erythromycin, and Azithromycin.
Typical non-bullous symptoms are blisters that form a yellowish or golden crust. They are found around the mouth and nose but can be found on legs as well. Bullous impetigo is characterized by blisters that often form on the buttocks and legs. Treatment includes washing the area clean with soap and water, and applying a prescribed cream or lotion.