Impetigo is a contagious skin infection characterised by formation of blisters or sores on certain areas of the body including the face, arms, trunk, legs and even buttocks. This type of infection is usually caused by staphylococcus bacteria, but can also be brought about by the Group A streptococcus bacteria. Impetigo commonly affects infants or young children and is not a serious skin disease. It is easy to treat and often just goes away on its own. Specific treatments for impetigo are determined by the child's age, the severity of the condition, the course of the condition and the child's capacity to endure specific medications.
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Things you need
- Antibacterial soap
- Warm water
- Sterile gauze
- Topical antibiotic medications
- Oral antibiotic medications
Keep the infected area clean. Proper hygiene is one of the main treatments for impetigo. This is mostly applicable to mild cases, where only small areas of the skin are affected. Gentle washing of the area with an antibacterial soap and warm water will help cleanse the surface of the lesion and also promotes easy removal of the crust. When the crust is off, it will be easier for the antibiotic medication to penetrate on the inside of the lesion, leading to a faster process of healing. After the lesion is properly cleansed and treated, seal it lightly with a sterile gauze to keep it protected.
Apply some topical antibiotic medication on your child's skin. For minor cases of impetigo, antibiotic ointments such as mupirocin (Bactroban) and fucidic acid are prescribed. These topical antibiotics are usually applied 3 times a day, directly on to the lesion. The application is continual for several days, even after the infected area heals. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after applying the ointment to prevent contamination.
Monitor the schedule of your child's oral medications. Oral medications are often prescribed by doctors if the infection is widespread (such as serious cases of impetigo contagiousa), more severe (such as ecthyma--the most serious type of impetigo) and if the lesions are no longer responding to topical antibiotics. Prescription of oral antibiotics largely depend upon the extent of your child's impetigo and also depends upon any allergies and existing health conditions your child may have. Flucloxacillin applied within 7 days, is often prescribed to alleviate severe cases of impetigo. Antibiotic medications such as penicillin and cephalosporins are also given. If your child have allergic reactions to penicillin, other oral antibiotics are prescribed including erythromycin and related medications such as azithromycin (Zithromax) and clarithromycin (Biaxin).
Teach your child and your entire household the proper techniques to avoid contamination. Handwashing is by far the simplest, most effective method in preventing the spread of infection. Antibacterial soap is the ideal soap to use for the process. You should also see to it that no one is sharing the same linens, towels and other household items with your infected child to prevent anyone from being infected. Also, keep you child's fingernails short to decrease his chance of scratching the area and spreading the infection on other parts of his body and to others.
Contact your doctor immediately if the following occurs: your child has fever, your child's impetigo lesions show extreme signs of discolourations, the lesions become very tender to touch or are inflamed, or the lesions become very painful.
Tips and warnings
- When administering your child's medications, finish the entire course of treatment even if he shows signs of healing. Don't attempt to stop the treatment early unless instructed by your doctor.
- Diarrhoea is a common side effect of oral antibiotic medications. Visit your doctor right away if your child is experiencing such condition.