Impetigo

Definition:
Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection which is most commonly seen in babies as well as small children. It causes red sores that can break open, ooze fluid, and develop a yellow-brown crust. These sores can occur anywhere on the body but most often appear around the mouth and nose.
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It can occur in adults but is seen far more often in children. Impetigo is contagious and can be spread to others through close contact or by sharing towels, sheets, clothing, toys, or other items. Scratching can also spread the sores to other parts of the body.

Symptoms:
You or your child may have impetigo if you have sores:

*Small red spots typically appear on the skin of the face (especially around the mouth and nose), neck or hands, although any part of the body may be affected.The spots may be clustered or merge together. The centre of each one rapidly becomes a blister, which then bursts, oozing a typical golden fluid. Crusts form over the red spots, which may be itchy or slightly sore.

* The sores begin as small red spots, then change to blisters that eventually break open. The sores are generally not painful, but they may be itchy.

*That ooze fluid and look crusty. Sores often look like they have been coated with honey or brown sugar.

*That increase in size and number. Sores may be as small as a pimple or larger than a coin.

*In babies, impetigo often occurs in the nappy area.

*New crops of spots may appear over several days or weeks (if untreated) and the infection is easily spread to other parts of the body.

Causes:
Impetigo is caused by one of two kinds of bacteria—strep (streptococcus) or staph (staphylococcus). Often these bacteria enter the body when the skin has already been irritated or injured because of other skin problems such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites or scratches, or nappy rash (in babies), chickenpox, burns, or cuts. Children may get impetigo after they have had a cold or allergies that have made the skin under the nose raw.In these situations the bacteria can more easily penetrate the skin’s defences and establish an infection. However, impetigo can also develop in completely healthy skin.
Risk Factors
Factors that increase your chance for impetigo include:

*Age: preschool and school-aged children
*Touching a person with impetigo
*Touching the clothing, towels, sheets, or other items of a person with impetigo
*Poor hygiene, particularly unwashed hands and dirty fingernails
*Crowded settings where there is direct person-to-person contact, such as schools and the military
*Warm, humid environment
*Seasonal: Summer
*Poor health or weakened immune system
*Tendency to have skin problems such as eczema , poison ivy , or skin allergy
*Cuts, scratches, insect bites , or other injury or trauma to the skin
*Chickenpox
*Lice infections (like scabies , head lice , or public lice ), which cause scratching

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Diagnosis:
Doctors can usually diagnose impetigo just by looking at  child’s skin. Sometimes doctor gently remove a small piece of a sore to send to a lab in order to identify the bacteria. If you or your child have other signs of illness,  the doctor may order blood or urine tests

Treatment:
Impetigo is treated with antibiotics. For cases of mild impetigo, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic ointment or cream to put on the sores. For cases of more serious impetigo, a doctor may also prescribe antibiotic pills.

After 3 days of treatment, you or your child should begin to get better. A child can usually return to school or daycare after 48 hours of treatment. If you apply the ointment or take the pills exactly as prescribed, most sores will be completely healed in 1 week.

At home, you should gently wash the sores with soap and water before you apply the medicine. If the sores are crusty, soak them in warm water for 15 minutes, scrub the crusts with a washcloth to remove them, and pat the sores dry. Do not share washcloths, towels, pillows, sheets, or clothes with others and be sure to wash these items in hot water before you use them again.

Try not to scratch the sores because scratching can spread the infection to other parts of the body. You can help prevent scratching by keeping your child’s fingernails short and covering sores with gauze or bandages.

Call your doctor if an impetigo infection does not improve after 3 or 4 days or if you notice any signs that the infection is getting worse such as fever, increased pain, swelling, warmth, redness, or pus.

Prevention:
f you know someone who has impetigo, try to avoid close contact with that person until his or her infection has gone away. You should also avoid sharing towels, pillows, sheets, clothes, toys, or other items with an infected person. If possible, wash any shared items in hot water before you use them again.

If you or your child has impetigo, scratching the sores can spread the infection to other areas of your body and to other people. Keeping the sores covered can help you or your child resist scratching them. Washing your or your child’s hands with soap can also prevent spreading the infection.

If your child has a cut or insect bite, covering it with antibiotic ointment or cream can help prevent impetigo.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose

Resources:
*http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=pictures+of+impetigo&id=66954188E428748C5C3FE74DC0B51F5FB5506A49&FORM=IGRE2
*http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-center/impetigo.aspx
*http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/impetigo2.shtml

*http://www.lifescript.com/Health/A-Z/Conditions_A-Z/Conditions/I/Impetigo.aspx?gclid=CK-inOjLmKkCFcW8KgodIhWnwQ&trans=1&du=1&ef_id=S81NxKI5DCoAAIRd:20110603013319:s

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