Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that often occurs in children between 2 and 5 years old. Adults and infants too can be affected. It is not serious but highly contagious. Although treatment is not always necessary, untreated impetigo can lead to complications such as cellulitis, meningitis and kidney inflammation. Impetigo in infants can be caused by bacteria living in healthy adults.
Incubation period is around 1-10 days depending on factors such as bacteria type, the patient’s immune system and like. The first signs present as tiny papules that turn into blisters and quickly rupture. It is during this stage that impetigo is most contagious. The symptoms improve in a period of about 4 days or less with treatment.
Treatment is usually done with antibiotics. Patients are advised to get prescription medications. A number of home treatments are available which may help promote faster recovery.
Although impetigo is most common on the face, it can also occur on any body area including the legs, arms, hands, armpits, buttocks, and genital area. This article investigates the presentation of impetigo on the body, its causes, how it is treated and self-care measures which may help prevent the infection. More on impetigo definition are also contained.
Impetigo on buttocks causes, symptoms and treatment
There are two main types of impetigo. The type that mostly occurs in the buttocks is known as bullous impetigo. It is the less common type but a bit serious than nonbullous impetigo.
Bullous impetigo often results from a staph infection. Sometimes, a strep infection can also be present. Once causative bacteria are inside the skin, they produce toxins that cause a gap between epidermis and dermis. Fluid collects in the gap to form large blisters which can reach 3 cm in diameter. Things that encourage impetigo on the buttocks include:
- skin creams
- tight clothing
- weak immune system
- warm and humid weather
The main difference between bullous and nonbullous impetigo is that the former forms tiny vesicles that quickly burst and crust over. Symptoms of nonbullous impetigo on the buttocks include:
- Larger blisters –bullous blisters are much larger. They appear and are easily visible on patient’s skin. The blisters are mostly clear. It is unlikely that the blisters will cause pain but are delicate and do rupture easily.
- Filled with fluid – bullous impetigo blisters are filled with clear yellow pus. The pus is a rich source of bacteria.
- Redness and itchiness – Once the blisters are ruptured, affected skin becomes red and starts to itch.
- Crusting – bullous impetigo blisters contain a yellow crust in early stages. Once ruptured, a dark or brown crust forms on the blisters. This indicates final impetigo stages of healing.
Diagnosis, treatment and prevention:
Doctors often identify bullous impetigo on the buttocks during physical examination. If necessary, a tissue or fluid culture is taken to confirm diagnosis. Some conditions that may mimic impetigo on the buttocks include atopic eczema, herpes, pemphigus vulgaris and erythema migrans.
Treatment is done with antibiotics. Creams and ointments usually get the job done. Oral or IV medications may be considered for severe cases. Sometimes, patients will also be given anti-inflammatory medications.
Prevention measures include:
- minimizing contact with affected areas
- dressing affected areas
- avoiding tight garments
- using medications to minimize spread
Impetigo genital infection vs herpes
Both impetigo and herpes are common and highly contagious. They are very different from each other, however.
What is an impetigo genital infection?
You can have impetigo in the genital area after direct skin contact with a contaminated surface or an impetigo patient. Causative bacteria enter the skin through small cracks or discontinuities on the skin. It is not common but possible for impetigo to develop on intact skin.
Having sores such as caused by herpes is an impetigo risk factor. But as long as you don’t come into contact with streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria that cause impetigo, you cannot develop the infection.
What is herpes?
Herpes can be oral or genital. It is caused by herpes simplex virus. Genital herpes is mostly transmitted through sex but can also be passed to another person during direct skin contact. Oral herpes is transmitted by activities such as kissing, sharing utensils and kissing.
It is possible to have both herpes and impetigo at the same time. Since both infections result in blisters or sores, having either can be a risk factor but doesn’t cause the other.
Impetigo causes tiny blisters which quickly rupture to release a clear yellow fluid. The perhaps most distinctive feature is formation of honey-colored scabs. The blisters are rarely painful but can be itchy.
Herpes causes fluid-filled blisters that soon develop into open painful sores. Depending on its type, the sores may occur around mouth or genital area. Oral herpes can easily be transmitted to genital area and vice versa.
How are they treated?
Impetigo is treated with antibiotics. The infection stops being contagious 48 hours after starting treatment. Home remedies such as tea tree oil and heat therapy may help improve and treat the infection.
Herpes is not curable since it is viral infection. However, rarely is it fatal especially in healthy adults. Herpes symptoms can persist for up to 4 weeks without treatment. Medications reduce the recovery period to as few as 3 days.
Other comparisons such as impetigo vs ringworm or impetigo vs eczema may help.
Impetigo on legs with pictures
Impetigo on legs is not as common as impetigo on face. When it occurs, it is often around an injured area. Staph infections are the usually the cause. See more here how do you get impetigo.
Children often pick bacteria when playing and like activities. Since their immune systems are not fully matured, bacteria are sometimes able to build colonies after contamination. This leads to occurrence of vesicles, the first signs of infection.
Depending on severity of the infection, signs can appear on large areas of the leg or be localized to smaller areas. Touching or scratching affected areas easily spreads infection to adjacent areas. In fact, it is possible for impetigo on face to be transmitted to legs. This can be avoided by keeping affected areas covered with waterproof dressing.
Parents are advised to keep their children away from school during recovery period from impetigo. This is because the infection can easily be passed to healthy individuals. Antibacterial ointments and creams help keep the infection from being contagious.
There are a number of home remedies for impetigo that may help treat and manage the infection. They include:
- Tea tree oil – this is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial remedy. To use it, use a cotton swab to directly apply it. Tea tree oil may irritate sensitive skin and thus requires being diluted with carrier oil such as olive oil.
- Vinegar – vinegar acts as a natural antiseptic. It may also reduce pain and relieve itchiness. To use it, add a tablespoon of white vinegar to 2 cups of water. Use a cotton swab to apply directly before washing off with water after 15 minutes.
- Honey – honey is an antimicrobial remedy which may also reduce pain. To use it, apply a thin coat all over affected areas. Use manuka honey if available although raw honey will be of same results.
- Heat therapy – heat therapy is very effective when impetigo blisters have formed pus. It helps draw the pus towards the surface. Heat therapy also discourages growth of bacteria. To use it, soak a thick towel in hot water and wring to get rid of excess water. Hold the towel on affected areas for 15 minutes. Repeat the process several times a day.
- Turmeric – turmeric is mostly known as an anti-inflammatory remedy. It however can be used an antiseptic. You can mix it with water or with olive oil and apply directly.
Impetigo on arms, hands and fingers
An infection on the arms, hands or fingers can be caused by impetigo. Several other conditions such as eczema, cellulitis and psoriasis can present as impetigo. It is therefore important to understand what impetigo looks like, its causes and symptoms. Online pictures may help.
Impetigo on the arm usually appears between elbow and wrist. This area is prone to many forms of skin injures including sunburn and cuts. During direct contact with a contaminated surface, impetigo bacteria can easily enter the skin through such flaws. Since bacterial infection is what causes impetigo, skin injuries, age and a weak immune system are known as risk factors.
Hands are another common location you will find an impetigo infection. Patients often transmit impetigo bacteria to other parts of their bodies after scratching. Long nails can carry bacteria or cause infection on injured parts on hand. Impetigo on the hand develops on the upper part.
It is also possible to have impetigo on the fingers. The same causation applies, where bacteria gain access into skin through injures. Learning how to prevent impetigo can help.
There is not much difference in the manner in which impetigo on the face or arm presents. After incubation period, small blisters will form and quickly rupture to release a yellow clear fluid. A honey-colored scab will afterwards form on the affected areas.
Impetigo on back and armpit causes and treatment
We are used to conditions such as eczema and psoriasis being the cause of skin defects on the back and boils on the armpit. Regardless, impetigo can develop in these areas.
Impetigo is a skin infection. This means that it can affect any part of the body, including the feet or even the penis. The reason as to why you may not see impetigo on the back very often is because the infection mostly occurs around an injured area exposed to staph or strep infection.
Sharing personal hygiene items such as towels and bed linen with an impetigo patient can spread the infection. Certain sports which allow direct skin to skin contact may also spread infection.
An impetigo armpit infection can easily be confused with a boil. Every so often, a discontinuity occurs in the skin of the armpits. Such can for example be caused by inflamed hair follicle or irritation due to sweat. Such flaws allow bacteria to reach the inside of skin where they cause infection.
The main difference between a boil and an impetigo armpit infection is that the former results in a painful boil which presents as a tender warm lump. The lump can last up to a week before maturing and bursting open. Impetigo blisters may increase in peripheral area but remain flattened. They also are not painful and do not last long.
Since both impetigo and boils are bacterial infections, they can be transmitted to other body areas. This is encouraged by scratching or picking at affected areas. The pus or fluid that fills boils and impetigo blisters are rich sources of bacteria. If it comes into contact with an injured area of the skin, infection may result.
When to see a doctor:
Impetigo is rarely serious. Regardless, going without impetigo medicine can bring a number of unnecessary risks. See your doctor once you notice typical signs of impetigo. Although over the counter antibiotics are available, they don’t come in strengths that can cure impetigo.
Prescription antibiotics also eradicate the issue of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. There is a growing concern that if we do not stop using over the counter antibiotics, most infections will stop responding to even the most powerful medications we have.
Consider learning more about this bacterial infection and how it can be easily controlled. You might be interested to know that the infection can also occur in pets and other animals. See more details here can dogs get impetigo?
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