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What is Impetigo?
Impetigo is a extremely contagious skin disease that mostly targets children and infants. Though the disease is usually temporary and only lasts two to three weeks, ignoring treatment can both cause health issues for the affected child as well as cause the infection to spread easily and quickly to other children who come in contact with the infected child.
Impetigo is most commonly caused by a bug bite, cut or scrape. This allows the two different kinds of bacteria that cause impetigo to enter the skin: Staphylococcus aureus and streptococcus pyogenes Both of these bacteria live on our skin at any time, but only cause issues when they are able to enter a open cut or sore. Once inside, these two bacterias produce a toxin which causes an outbreak of impetigo.
Symptoms of impetigo include small red blisters that appear most commonly under the nose and around the mouth. The red blister eventually becomes a sore that then ruptures. The rupture produces pus that pours out of the sore and then crusts over. The sore may also be accompanied by itching.
How it Spreads
Once impetigo has infected an individual, it prevents some skin cells from binding together. Impetigo does this by damaging an essential protein in the skin. Once this protein has been damaged, all it takes is a short contact with the toxin produced by impetigo to cause an outbreak among other children and even susceptible adults. Impetigo can be spread by touch, infected toys, blankets or even clothing. Infected individuals also may spread the disease to other parts of their body by touching the infected areas of their body and then scratching other parts of their skin.
Treatment usually includes regular washings of the infected areas and a topical antibiotic. If the infection is serious or if the impetigo is contagious enough, an oral antibiotic may also be used to help curb the spread of the infection.
How to Stop Impetigo From Spreading
There are simple precautions that can be taken to prevent impetigo from spreading to others. These precautions include: washing the infected area and keeping them covered with gauze to prevent direct contact with the impetigo toxins, wearing gloves when washing or dressing the infected areas, washing all of the infected person's clothing or other personal belongings, and keeping an infected child home for the duration of contagiousness.
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