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Health Information For Teens
Impetigo (pronounced: im-peh-TY-go) is a very common skin infection, especially in young kids. But anyone can get it. It can cause blisters or sores on the face, hands, and legs.
Someone 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.
Washing your hands and face well and often can help prevent it.
Impetigo may affect skin anywhere on the body, but is most common around the nose and mouth, hands, and forearms.
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 people 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 you take the medicine as prescribed. Otherwise, a deeper and more serious skin infection could develop.
While the infection is healing, gently wash your 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 fingernails short and clean to prevent scratching that could lead to a worse infection.
Keeping skin clean can help prevent impetigo. Wash your 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.
To prevent impetigo from spreading among family members, everyone should use their own clothing, sheets, razors, soaps, and towels. When these items get dirty, wash them separately in very hot water. Using paper towels instead of cloth towels also can help keep the infection from spreading to others. Sharing makeup is never a good idea but even more risky if you have impetigo.
Call the doctor if you have signs of impetigo, especially if you’ve been around a family member, friend, or classmate with the infection.
Keep an eye on the sores and call the doctor if the skin doesn’t begin to heal after 3 days of treatment or you develop a fever. If the area around the rash becomes red, warm, or tender to the touch, call your doctor right away.
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.
Puberty causes all kinds of changes in your body – and some may not make you feel very desirable. Read this article for information on dealing with greasy hair, perspiration, and body hair.
Scars from acne can seem like double punishment – first you had to suffer through the pimples, now you have marks to remind you. Is there anything you can do?
Sometimes it may seem like your skin is impossible to manage, especially when you find a huge zit on your nose or a cold sore at the corner of your mouth. Here are ways to prevent and treat common skin problems.
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.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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