What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a contagious bacterial skin infection mostly affecting infants and children. Adults may also contract the disease if the bacteria enter their systems through direct contact with an infected person or child.

 

Causes

 

There are three bacteria types that often cause impetigo. These are:

 

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Streptococcus pyogenes

 

These bacteria often live and thrive in crowded places or hot and humid environments. They may be present in places such as schools, nurseries, gym changing rooms, and swimming pools.

 

There are also two categories of impetigo, to wit:

 

  • Primary Impetigo– The bacteria infects a person with healthy skin.

 

  • Secondary Impetigo– The bacteria enter breaks in the skin caused by other conditions like eczema and scabies. It also enters skin that’s been bitten by insects, scratched, or cut.

 

Impetigo typically affects the skin’s outer layer and causes sores and blisters on the affected area.

Symptoms

Non-bullous impetigo is the more common type of impetigo, and it exhibits the following symptoms:

 

  • Initial red spots or sores
  • Itchiness on and around the spots

 

They are often seen around the mouth and nose. The spots will then progress and break off, leaving behind a yellowish crust that will heal into reddish scarring marks.

 

Bullous impetigo is less common and usually affects newborns. It starts off with blisters filled with fluid found at the body’s central areas. The blisters will burst and eventually crust as they heal. Bullous impetigo can be painful for newborns.

 

Symptoms of impetigo are typically mild and subside on its own without the need for intervention. But treatment is still recommended in order to hasten the healing process and prevent the spread of bacteria to others.

Diagnosis

Have a doctor assess your skin to confirm that you have impetigo. You can reach out to our Mobidoctor physicians by booking a video consultation at your most comfortable time and place.

 

The Mobidoctor GPs will check your skin and listen to a description of your symptoms. Let the doctor know if you have other existing skin conditions like eczema, as they can be a factor in impetigo symptoms. Show the doctor any other existing breaks in your skin like bites, cuts, grazes, or scratches.

Treatment

You will likely be given a set of antibiotic creams and oral tablets to complete one antibiotic course. This will kill off the bacteria causing your impetigo. If your condition is mild, antibiotic creams alone may eradicate the bacteria and your symptoms. You might be given additional oral antibiotics on top of the topical creams if your impetigo is worse.

 

You will usually see improvement in your skin after around four days of treatment. But don’t stop it abruptly; you need to complete the prescribed number of treatment days to completely clear yourself of impetigo. It usually takes a week to heal from the illness completely.