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Health Information For Parents
Impetigo (im-peh-TY-go) is a very common skin infection among kids, especially preschoolers and school-age kids. It can cause blisters or sores on the face, hands, legs, and diaper area.
Kids can be more likely to develop impetigo when their skin is already irritated by another problem, such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, and cuts or scrapes. Scratching a sore or a rash is a common cause — for example, poison ivy can get infected and turn into impetigo. It also happens more often in warm, humid environments. Making sure that kids wash their hands and faces well can help prevent it.
Impetigo may affect skin anywhere on the body, but is most common around the nose and mouth, hands, and forearms, and in young children, the diaper area.
The three types of impetigo are non-bullous (crusted), bullous (large blisters), and ecthyma (ulcers):
Impetigo is contagious, and can spread from one person to another. It’s usually caused by one of two bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes (also called group A streptococcus, which also causes strep throat). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is also becoming an important cause of impetigo.
Impetigo can spread to anyone who touches infected skin or items that have been touched by infected skin (such as clothing, towels, and bed linens). It can be itchy, so kids also can spread the infection when they scratch it and then touch other parts of their body.
In most cases, doctors can diagnose impetigo based on how the rash looks. Occasionally, they may need to take a sample of fluid from blisters for testing.
Impetigo is typically treated with antibiotics, either as an ointment or a medicine taken by mouth:
After antibiotic treatment begins, healing should start within a few days. It’s important to make sure that your child takes the medicine as prescribed. Otherwise, a deeper and more serious skin infection could develop.
While the infection is healing, gently wash the skin with clean gauze and antiseptic soap every day. Soak any areas of crusted skin with warm soapy water to help remove the layers of crust (you don’t have to remove all of it).
To keep impetigo from spreading to other parts of the body, the doctor or nurse will probably recommend covering infected areas with gauze and tape or a loose plastic bandage. Keep your child’s fingernails short and clean to prevent scratching that could lead to a worse infection.
Keeping skin clean can help prevent impetigo. Kids should wash their hands well and often and take baths or showers regularly. Pay special attention to skin injuries (cuts, scrapes, bug bites, etc.), areas of eczema, and rashes such as poison ivy. Keep these areas clean and covered.
Anyone in your family with impetigo should keep their fingernails cut short and the impetigo sores covered with gauze and tape.
To prevent impetigo from spreading among family members, make sure everyone uses their own clothing, sheets, razors, soaps, and towels. Separate the bed linens, towels, and clothing of anyone with impetigo, and wash them in hot water. Keep the surfaces of your kitchen and household clean.
Call the doctor if any of your kids have signs of impetigo, especially if they’ve been around a family member or classmate with the infection.
If your child is already being treated for impetigo, keep an eye on the sores and call the doctor if the skin doesn’t begin to heal after 3 days of treatment or if a fever develops. If the area around the rash becomes red, warm, or tender to the touch, call the doctor right away.
Ringworm isn’t a worm at all – it’s the name for a type of fungal skin infection. The good news is that ringworm is easy to treat.
Cellulitis is a skin infection that involves areas of tissue just below the skin’s surface. It can affect any part of the body, but it’s most common on exposed areas, such as the face, arms, or lower legs.
Mild rashes from poison ivy, oak, and sumac plants can be treated at home. But severe and widespread rashes require medical treatment.
Did you know that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? If you don’t wash your hands frequently, you can pick up germs from other sources and then infect yourself.
Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and underlying tissues that can affect any area of the body. It begins in an area of broken skin, like a cut or scratch.
Eczema can be an itchy nuisance and cause scratching that makes the problem worse. Many kids who have eczema today will be over it by the time they’re teens.
Impetigo is a strange-sounding word that might be new to you. It’s an infection of the skin caused by bacteria. Read this article to learn more about it.
Impetigo is a skin infection caused by fairly common bacteria. Read this article to learn how to recognize it and what to do about it.
People can get abscesses on the skin, under the skin, in a tooth, or even inside the body. Most abscesses are caused by infection, so it can help to know what to do. Find out in this article for teens.
MRSA is a type of bacteria that the usual antibiotics can’t tackle anymore. The good news is that there are some simple ways to protect yourself from being infected. Find out how.
Our skin protects the network of tissues, muscles, bones, nerves, blood vessels, and everything else inside our bodies. Hair and nails are actually modified types of skin.
An abscess is a sign of an infection, usually on the skin. Find out what to do if your child develops one.
MRSA is a type of bacteria that the usual antibiotics can’t tackle anymore. Simple precautions can help protect your kids from becoming infected.
When skin is punctured or broken for any reason, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. But good hygiene can prevent many staph infections. Learn more.
Germs are the microscopic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that can cause disease.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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