DESCRIPTIONImpetigo is a contagious, common bacterial skin infection that affects the superficial layers of the skin. The skin of the face, arms, and legs is involved. Impetigo is most common in infants and children.
Appropriate health care includes:
Home care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSA red rash with many small blisters. Some blisters contain pus, and yellow crusts form when they break. The blisters don't hurt, but they may itch.
Slight fever (sometimes).
Staphylococci or streptococci bacteria growing in the upper skin layers.
RISK FACTORSFair complexion.
Skin that is sensitive to sun and irritants, such as soap and makeup.
Illness that has lowered resistance.
Warm, moist weather.
Crowded or unsanitary living conditions.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Your child should bathe daily with soap and water.
Keep the child's fingernails short. Urge the child not to scratch impetigo blisters.
If there is an outbreak in the family, urge all members to use anti-bacterial soap.
Use separate towels for each family member, or substitute paper towels temporarily.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory skin culture to identify the germ causing the infection.
Penetration of the infection to deeper skin layers (ecthyma or cellulitis). This may cause scarring. Treatment is the same as for impetigo.
Curable in 10 days with treatment.
Follow the suggestions listed under PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE.
Scrub lesions with gauze and antiseptic soap. Break any pustules. Remove all crusts, and expose and cleanse all lesions. If crusts are difficult to remove, soak them in warm soapy water and scrub gently.
Cover impetigo sores with gauze and tape to keep the child's hands away from them.
Treat new lesions the same way, even if you are not sure they are impetigo.
Separate and boil bed linen, if possible, as well as towels, clothes, and other items that have touched sores.
Males who shave should do so around sores on the face, not over them, using an aerosol shaving cream and changing razor blades each day. They should not use a shaving brush--it may harbor germs.
MEDICATIONOral antibiotics, such as dicloxacillin or erythromycin. To avoid complications, your child should take antibiotics for 10 days even if symptoms disappear.
Antibiotic ointments for very small areas of infection. Rub antibiotic ointment into the child's lesions for 60 seconds at least 4 times a day. If your doctor has not prescribed an ointment, you may use a non-prescription ointment containing neomycin and bacitracin.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Your doctor may prescribe:
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of impetigo.
Fever of 101F (38.3C) or higher orally develops.
The sores continue to spread or don't begin to heal in 3 days, despite treatment.