Having a scab or skin lesion usually does not cause harm to others. While most skin problems do not pose threats to others, there are definitely some that a person should watch out for because it could easily spread to others. One of them is a skin with impetigo. If you spot yourself or your child with signs of impetigo, it is important to take preventive measures to avoid spreading it to the public and to meet doctors to receive medicine or treatment.
Impetigo is a common infection affecting the skin caused by a bacteria of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. Impetigo usually begins with red sores or blisters which then can develop into golden-brown crusty patches after the blisters burst. Appearance of the crusts is sometimes described as if cornflakes are stuck to the skin. The blisters may be itchy or painful. It is common to spot symptoms of fever and swollen glands as the body is showing signs of fighting off the infection. Impetigo may occur on the nose, neck, mouth, face and limbs such as the arms or legs.
Impetigo is most likely to affect young children but anyone can still get it. It is usually transmitted through direct physical contact or sharing objects. For example, when a person touches the impetigo or scratches it and places their hand on the hand rail or cooking utensils and another person touches the object or uses it. A person is at risk for impetigo when their skin is not in an optimal condition such as having an eczema, dermatitis and scabies or experiencing a skin trauma caused by cuts, insect bites, burns and abrasion. This risk causes the bacteria to easily infect the skin by entering through the compromised skin state. People with weakened immune systems such as HIV, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or diabetes are likely to develop impetigo.
Impetigo generally gets better without treatment around 2 to 3 weeks. However, getting a treatment can help to reduce the time needed for it to heal well. With good treatment, impetigo can be improved by 7 to 10 days. With good treatment, risk of infection can be lowered as that impetigo can easily spread to others due to its characteristics of being highly contagious. Hence, what is the best treatment to speed recovery? Below are treatments available:
1- Application of antiseptic such as hydrogen peroxide or povidone for 5 to 7 days
2- Topical antibiotics or antibiotic cream such as fusidic acid or mupirocin can help treat impetigo when antiseptic treatment is not enough or is not appropriate to be used on such as around the eyes.
3- Oral antibiotics such as flucloxacillin are recommended if the impetigo gets worse, widespread impetigo, topical antibiotics treatments fail or are at high risk for complications.
Since impetigo is easily infectious, it is important for a person to isolate themselves from others by not attending school or work at the time being. An impetigo is said to be fully healed after 48 hours of initiating medicine or when the patches dry out. Remember to practise good hygiene by washing hands frequently and keeping the sores, blisters or the crust patches clean and dry. Wash bed sheets and towel at high temperature to kill the possible bacteria. Avoid touching and scratching the impetigo from becoming a scar. The best way to prevent impetigo is to take care of the damaged skin as the bacteria easily enter the skin via the damaged skin. This means to make sure the cuts, scratches and insect bites clean by washing them with warm water and soap. If you experience other skin disorders such as eczema, make sure to get treatment for it.