Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. It is not serious but is highly contagious. Patients can easily transmit the infection to others or to elsewhere in the body. The recovery period is up to 2 weeks but can be shortened with treatment.
Small red papules are the common signs of impetigo. It is after the papules have burst open that the disease is most contagious. Dressing the sores and using medications can both prevent spread.
Most impetigo cases occur on face, especially around mouth and nose. It is also possible to have impetigo on scalp, lips, neck, chin, ear, eye and basically any part of the body. The less common type of impetigo, bullous impetigo, causes large blisters up to 3 cm in diameter and occurs in the trunk and buttocks.
Impetigo on face and mouth
The most common areas you may find impetigo are around the mouth and nose. Signs may extend to nostrils or even nasal passages. In fact, presence of bacteria inside the nose is a common cause of recurring impetigo.
Impetigo on face is usually nonbullous. This means that it does not lead to formation of large blisters. It begins with small red papules that quickly burst releasing clear or yellowish fluid. The fluid then forms yellowish-brown or honey-colored scabs.
Signs of impetigo mouth infection rarely include the inside of mouth. They mostly appear on the area between nose and upper lip. They can also occur around lip edges.
Sharing utensils can easily spread bacteria from impetigo mouth infection. Children can also transmit the infection to their mothers when breastfeeding, especially if there are forms of injuries on the breasts.
Impetigo in nose causes, signs and treatments
Impetigo in the nose is very common in kids between the ages of 2 and 5 years. It involves the areas below the nostrils and nasal passages.
Bacteria usually start by building colonies in nasal passages where conditions favor their growth. From there, the bacteria launch frequent attacks. This can lead to recurring impetigo.
First signs present inside and under nose as tiny blisters filled with a clear or yellowish fluid. The blisters quickly burst to form open sores which soon crust over.
In most cases, small injuries inside or about the nasal region provide bacteria with entry portals. Once inside the skin, the bacteria multiply and release toxins which then cause infection. Forms of injuries can result from allergies, common cold and like. It is not impossible to develop impetigo on intact skin. This is however mostly seen in bullous impetigo which is not common in the nose.
Nasal impetigo is treated with antibiotics. Mupirocin cream is a popular choice. The cream is meant to reduce the bacterial population inside the nose. This promotes recovery and discourages spread. Mupirocin cream usually promotes full recovery in a period of about 5 days.
Recurrence may be seen in nasal impetigo. In that case, treatment needs to be done on monthly basis. This can however cause a number of undesired side effects. Home treatments and care measures can help avoid the need for monthly nasal impetigo treatment. Considerable examples of natural treatments that may help include essential oils for impetigo such as jojoba oil and peppermint oil.
It is important that patients avoid congested places to prevent spread. Impetigo incubation period is 2-3 days for strep infections and 4-10 days for staph infections. Once blisters have clustered over, the infection becomes largely noncontiguous. The same happens 48 hours after starting treatment with antibiotics.
Impetigo on lips with pictures
In pictures, impetigo on the lips can be confused with cold sores. Let’s go through both infections, their causes, symptoms and treatments.
How do you get impetigo? Impetigo is caused by bacteria. It affects the outer skin layer and therefore causes easily visible signs. The infection is characterized by vesicles which quickly burst and crust over to form honey-colored scabs. The whole process takes 1-2 weeks. Impetigo blisters are itchy but not painful.
Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. The virus is passed from one person to another during direct skin to skin contact. It can also be picked from contaminated surfaces such as utensils. Tiny cracks in the oral cavity allow the virus to enter the body. Unlike impetigo bacteria, HSV cannot be completely gotten rid of from the body. It stays dormant for most of its life but, however, launches attacks when triggered.
Cold sores cause easily noticeable blisters in the area around the mouth and on the lips. These are also known as fever blisters and can be painful. They develop around the original point of entry. The blisters break open soon after formation before oozing. A scab then develops over the blisters.
Incubation period is 2-3 weeks after first infection. Before blisters appear, patients experience a tingling effect or mild itchiness. This can result from trauma, stress, illnesses or other potential cold sores triggers.
There is no cure for cold sores. Treatment is mostly done with creams to fasten recovery. Without treatment, cold sores can take up to 4 weeks to completely heal. This period can be significantly reduced to as few as 4 days.
Having either cold sores or impetigo can act as a risk factor. This also applies in case of impetigo genital infection and genital herpes.
Impetigo eye infection causes and signs
An impetigo eye infection is not very common. When it occurs, medical attention is necessary for it can lead to cellulitis or erysipelas.
Staph infections are the common causes of eye impetigo. Bacteria enter the skin through flaws on eyelid skin. It is possible but unlikely that bacteria will colonize an intact skin region. This may be encouraged by warmth and humidity.
Eye impetigo blisters can form on eyelid or around eye. On eyelids, both the inside and outside surfaces can be affected.
Cellulitis is a more serious bacterial infection. It is characterized by swelling and redness. Preorbital cellulitis is not painful and doesn’t cause problems with vision. Orbital cellulitis is both painful and causes vision problems. In eyes, cellulitis is more dangerous and should be treated with antibiotics.
Erysipelas is more common in old people and babies. It too is a bacterial infection mostly caused by Group A beta haemolytic streptococci. Its main defining characteristic is the formation of a sharp raised border on the affected skin.
Treating impetigo of the eyes can be quite challenging. It may require use of eye drops, depending on the location of the infection. The important thing is to seek treatment before complications arise.
Impetigo ear infection causes and signs
Ear infections are common. One of the infections that can occur in the ear is impetigo. Signs may manifest externally or inside the ear.
Since impetigo is an infection of the skin, impetigo ear infection mostly appears on the visible soft lining of the ear where wax collects. Infection is caused by bacteria introduced into the skin through tiny cracks.
Impetigo can be identified from vesicles it causes. Other than being red and fluid-filled, the blisters gradually gain peripheral size before bursting and forming honey-colored scabs. Itchiness is usually present but not pain.
If an ear infection is being caused by impetigo, it will improve and heal off within a week or two. Antibiotic creams such as mupirocin for impetigo can reduce this duration to between three and six days.
The proximity of internal ear structures to the brain makes ear infections potentially very dangerous. Bacterial infections in the brain can easily cause inflammation of the membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain. When such inflammation occurs, meningitis develops and can easily cause death.
Impetigo on scalp causes and treatment
Impetigo on scalp can be confused with a number of other scalp conditions. This is because it results in irritating sores that may be painful and recurrent.
Scalp impetigo is mostly due to a staph infection, but can also result from strep infection. Causal bacteria are transmitted from infected people during skin to skin contact. Sharing items such as combs, hats and like can also transmit bacteria. Transmission is highest in congested places such as schools.
Once on scalp, bacteria enter the skin through tiny cracks or other forms of scalp injuries. It is also possible for bacteria to build colonies on intact scalp skin.
The main feature that may help identify impetigo is formation of honey-colored blisters. At first, the blisters form open sores once they break open but soon crust over. These blisters may not be painful but are often itchy. Itchiness encourages scratching which in turn promotes spread and possible scarring.
Most cases are reported during summer. This is when the weather is both warm and humid. Bacteria multiply quickly in such conditions.
Poor hygiene habits increase the risk of developing impetigo in kids. This is especially after contact with an affected person.
Impetigo doesn’t always require treatment. However, complications of impetigo can arise when no treatment is available. This is not to mention that chances of spread are heightened without treatment.
Topical antibiotics are prescribed in most cases. If the infection is extensive, oral or IV medications may be given. It is important that a doctor be the one to prescribe the appropriate medication to use. This is partly because diagnosis is required to rule out other conditions such as ringworm and eczema. See impetigo vs ringworm pictures for illustrations.
Antibiotics are also used as impetigo treatment for dogs.
Impetigo on chin and neck
The chin and neck regions are prone to a number of skin conditions such as impetigo. This bacterial infection is often preceded by a form of skin injury.
Either streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria may be responsible for impetigo on chin and neck. When it is a staph infection, signs take 4-10 days to show up after infection. Strep infections manifest after 3-6 days.
Impetigo on the neck or chin begins with red papules. The papules quickly burst, ooze and form yellow or brown scabs. The normal healing process follows after that. Once completely healed, scarring is rarely present.
Treatment is primarily done with antibiotic ointments. More serious cases are treated with oral or IV impetigo medicine. With treatment, impetigo of the neck and chin areas heals up within 4-6 days.
Home treatments may also help much when it comes to treating impetigo and preventing spread. Remedies such as tea tree oil and white vinegar improve impetigo symptoms as well as stop bacterial growth.
Prevention measures revolve around activities to keep bacteria from being transmitted. For example, affected areas can be dressed with loose waterproof bandages.
See your doctor if impetigo fails to improve with home treatments. In fact, always seek medical attention if you are to notice signs of impetigo. Early treatment not only speeds up recovery but may also prevent complications such as cellulitis and impetigo herpetiformis.
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