Impetigo can be defined as a highly contagious skin condition that is usually caused by the Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, which infects the outer layers of the skin, known as the epidermis. Since bacteria thrive mostly in moist and warm conditions, this infection is more commonly found in the sweltering summer months. Places that have warm and humid climates throughout the year, has this infection. Although the infection is more common in infants and children, adults get it too. Also Read: Intertrigo: Causes, Symptoms Ans Treatment
Impetigo is quite an old disease. The name dates back to the 14th-century and comes from the Latin word ‘impetere’, which signifies “to attack” since it targets the healthy skin within the body.
This infection is of two types:
Primary Impetigo: This type usually infects healthy skin.
Secondary Impetigo: When the infection occurs in the broken skin.
Bullous Impetigo: This condition usually features the formation of large, painful and itchy blisters that turns into yellowish crust. It doesn’t leave behind any scars after healing.
Non-bullous Impetigo: It usually starts with reddish, itchy sores around the mouth and nose that gradually turns into brownish-yellow crust. On healing, there is no mark or scar.
Ecthyma: It is usually characterised by painful sores on the skin of the legs, ankles, buttocks, thighs, and feet. These sores are quite big and usually leave behind a deep mark of a scar after healing.
This infection usually occurs when bacteria from the Staphylococcus or Streptococcus strain enters the body through any cuts, insect bites, scratches or bites. These bacteria usually transfer from an infected to a healthy person when one touches the infected sores or share personal belongings like towel, comb, bed, sheets, toys etc. of the infected person. Once the bacteria enter the human body, they start spreading quickly giving rise to sore like structures. Also Read: Here's Everything You Need To Know About Babies And Skin Rashes
The following causative factors increase the risk of Impetigo:
Age: Commonly seen in children aging 2 to 5 years.
Weather: The risk of this infection increases in warm, humid climates.
Diseased conditions: Anomalies like diabetes, HIV, scabies, herpes simplex, chickenpox or if a person is undergoing dialysis increases the risk of getting this infection.
Skin conditions: Infectious conditions like eczema, dermatitis, lice or psoriasis aggravates the risk of impetigo.
Other Anomalies: Having a sunburn, other burns or insect bites or infection due to poison ivy makes one prone to impetigo.
Certain Games and Sports: Participation in certain sports that involve skin-to-skin contact, such as football, rugby or wrestling, increases your risk of developing impetigo.
Impetigo usually features sores that develop around the nose, mouth, face, limbs, neck and waist. The common signs and symptoms of Impetigo include:
- Red sores that rupture and ooze out fluid
- Formation of yellowish-brown crust on the sores
- Itchy sores
- High temperature
- Swollen glands
Although the sores are a bit painful, it usually goes away after proper treatment. In certain cases, if it is left untreated, it may aggravate and cause the following conditions:
- Cellulitis (a severe infection that affects the underlying tissues and can even spread to the lymph nodes and blood stream)
- Scarring (Ecthyma, mostly causes ulcers that leaves behind scars)
- Kidney problems (the bacterial infection can also cause damage to the kidneys)
Diagnosis And Treatment
Once you diagnose any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, consult a doctor right away to start the treatment at the earliest. The doctor usually does a thorough physical check-up followed by acknowledging the patient's past medical history or the sports he or she is involved in order to find the exact cause of the infection. If the sores don’t clear up on taking antibiotics, the doctor usually performs a skin test with the fluid oozing out of the sores to look for the best possible antibiotics that might help.
Treatment options usually include the application of topical ointments or creams to reduce the size of the sore. The doctor may also prescribe for some oral antibiotics to heal the sore completely, reduce pain and swelling in the surrounding area and prevent the infection from recurring.