Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the skin. It is most common in children but can also occur in infants and adults. Like many other bacterial infections, it is easily treatable with antibiotics for impetigo. Home treatments can also be used to cure and improve its symptoms.
A number of other skin conditions can be taken for impetigo. Such include herpes, chicken pox or eczema. Knowing the basics of how impetigo presents, its causes and risk factors is important in regards to self-diagnosis. Should doubts exist, medical attention can always be sought.
Some people recover successfully from impetigo even without treatment. This however comes with a number of unnecessary risks. For example, going without treatment can possibly lead to complications like cellulitis, meningitis and kidney inflammation in later stages of impetigo. This article is a detailed look at how to treat impetigo at home, mostly with natural remedies.
How to treat impetigo with tea tree oil
One of the most common home remedies for impetigo is tea tree oil. The use of tea tree oil to treat bacterial and fungal infections dates back hundreds of years to native Australian inhabitants. Oil distilled from the plant’s leaves can also be used to reduce inflammation. This makes tea tree oil a very popular home remedy for the treatment of various skin conditions.
Impetigo is caused by staphylococcus and sometimes streptococcus bacteria. Some of these bacteria are to be found on the skin where they live harmlessly. Flaws, injuries or discontinuities provide the portals of entry that bacteria require to enter the skin. Since the superficial skin layers are nutritious, warm and wet, bacteria rapidly build colonies and cause infection. This results in the formation of small papules which turn into blisters and quickly burst to release a clear yellowish fluid.
Tea tree oil works by stopping bacterial growth. In less numbers, bacteria are more likely to succumb to immune activities and less likely to build colonies. It has been suggested that tea tree oil is also effective on MRSA. These are bacteria that don’t respond to some commonly used antibiotics.
Below are steps to follow when using tea tree oil to cure impetigo:
- Mix equal parts of tea tree oil and carrier oil such as olive oil
- Wash affected areas and pat dry or leave to air dry
- Soak a cotton swab in the tea tree oil mixture and apply directly
- Leave for 15 minutes before rinsing off
- Repeat the treatment 3-4 times a day
- Remember to wash your hands before and after treatment to avoid spreading infection
Tea tree oil should not be ingested. Most people find it tolerable although cases of allergic reaction and skin irritation have been reported. To avoid irritation, always dilute with carrier oil or water before use. Note that tea tree oil is not a conventional treatment. Patients are advised to check with their doctors before use. This is especially if diagnosis has not been confirmed. Since impetigo can also occur in animals, tea tree oil can also be used for cases such as impetigo in dogs.
Other natural remedies for impetigo
Several other natural remedies for impetigo can be used to either treat or improve symptoms. They include:
Apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar excels in making it impossible for bacteria to build colonies. It also reduces inflammation. Other benefits of apple cider vinegar include body detoxification and balancing of blood sugar.
Before using apple cider vinegar, dilute it with water to avoid skin irritation. Use a cotton swab to dab the solution on affected areas. Rinse after 5-10 minutes. Avoid using apple cider vinegar on large open sores or on an impetigo toddler infection.
Echinacea is one of the remedies that were in popular medicinal use before discovery of antibiotics. It works by preventing growth of bacteria.
You can use Echinacea internally or externally. One option is to drink it in form of tea. This works by boosting the immune system. The second option is to soak a piece of cloth in Echinacea tea and compress it on affected areas for around ten minutes.
Grape seed extract.
Grape seed extract is commonly used to fight bacterial infections as well as improve dry skin. To make the extract, grind ripe grapes together with the seeds. Soak a cotton pad in the extract and apply directly to affected areas.
Garlic not only keeps bacterial proliferation in check but also improves symptoms of impetigo. To use it, crush 3-4 garlic cloves and fry them is sesame oil. Allow the mixture to cool before applying directly. You can also use garlic by chewing 3 cloves every day.
Turmeric is mostly known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It however can also be used as an antiseptic. The curcumin in turmeric has been found to be particularly effective against staph infections. For best results, mix a tablespoon of coconut oil with a teaspoon of turmeric and apply the resulting paste directly.
Honey is not only the food that can go for years without spoiling but also a potent antibacterial remedy. Most of the available research data is on manuka honey. It is believed to be of most benefits in regards to controlling impetigo and related infections. Raw honey can however be used for similar benefits.
There are reasons to believe that green tea can keep impetigo from being passed from one person to another or to other body areas. Green tea has been found to be able to control the growth of most bacteria strains.
Aloe vera is effective in treating problems related to skin dryness but can also help in the case of impetigo. Gel from a fresh aloe vera plant is best applied directly to the affected areas for optimum results.
Zinc is a very important mineral in development of a healthy immune system. There are reasons to believe that more zinc in diets or supplements can reduce the risk of impetigo in infants and children. Before taking supplements, always check with your doctor.
Myrrh oil works by neutralizing some of the chemicals that cause swelling during an infection. While swelling can be part of immune activities, it makes infections more aggressive and sometimes painful. Use of myrrh oil can help to avoid these reactions.
Best essential oils for impetigo
Essential oils are commonly used to soothe irritated skin, moisturize dry skin and control microbial infections. Below are some that may prove effective in treating impetigo and improving its symptoms:
Coconut oil contains lauric acid. This acid renders affected areas inhospitable to bacteria. Frequent application of coconut oil can therefore reduce the period it is required to completely recover from impetigo.
Some soaps and dental care products contain eucalyptus oil. This is because the oil contains antibacterial properties that not only fight bacteria but also enhances recovery from infections. For best results, apply eucalyptus oil directly.
Lavender oil works as a natural antiseptic. It also promotes relaxation by improving blood circulation. Both these properties can prove very helpful when dealing with impetigo on scalp, face or trunk.
When using essential oils for impetigo, add about 50ml of carrier oil such as jojoba oil or olive oil to the essential oil of choice. This helps avoid skin irritation. Afterwards, use a cotton swab to dab the mixture on affected areas. Always ensure to wash affected areas clean and pat dry before application. If the infection does not respond after 2 days, seek medical attention. Stronger medications such as mupirocin for impetigo are available.
Impetigo natural treatment with heat therapy
Heat therapy is a considerable impetigo natural treatment. This is especially if impetigo blisters have formed pus. The treatment may help draw pus towards the surface where it can drain.
Bacteria survive in warm and wet conditions. When temperature rises or falls significantly, bacteria can barely survive let alone build colonies. Heat therapy may also improve blood circulation and in that case boost immunity.
Below are the steps to follow:
- Heat some water to near boiling point
- Wash clean the affected areas
- Soak a piece of towel in the hot water
- Wring out to remove excess water
- Compress the cloth on affected areas for about 15 minutes
- Repeat the process 3 times a day
Excess heat can cause unnecessary discomfort on impetigo affected areas. You can test the degree on hotness on healthy areas before use. Note that heat therapy works only by improving signs of impetigo and not by curing the infection.
Natural ways to prevent impetigo
Impetigo spreads quickly from one person to another and sometimes to other body areas. This is because the infection is highly contagious. The need for treatment can be avoided by preventing spread.
Boost your immune system:
There are countless bacteria to be found on our skin. Normally, the immune system keeps them from causing harm. This balance is interrupted when bacteria reach superficial layers where conditions are very favorable for bacterial growth. A strong immune system is better suited to identify and fight off invading pathogens that cause impetigo. Eating healthy diets rich in fruits and getting medications for diseases such as diabetes or HIV may help.
Practice good hygiene:
Impetigo is spread through skin to skin contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. Regular hand washing with medicated soap may help flush out picked bacteria. Parents are advised to encourage their kids to practice good hygiene especially when a household member has been diagnosed with impetigo. Impetigo on back and trunk can be prevented by daily washing of bed linen and clothes.
Avoid scratching and touching:
Scratching and touching affected areas is a classic way to collect bacteria and deposit them elsewhere in the body or on other people. Sometimes, impetigo blisters become itchy. This tempts patients to do some scratching to ease the itch. A better method to control itchiness is use of essential oils such as coconut oil.
Cover affected areas:
A good way to keep bacteria from leaving the site of infection is to keep it covered. To avoid discomfort, use a lightly fixed bandage or gauze. Impetigo blisters quickly burst and release the contained fluid. The fluid is also a rich source of bacteria. A waterproof dressing may be a better choice in this case.
Keeps wounds clean and dry:
A common method to keep wounds from becoming infected is keeping them dry and clean. Dry wounds form a scab which keeps bacteria from entering. Cleaning flushes out most of harmful bacteria that may end up causing infection.
Most natural treatments for impetigo are meant to improve symptoms and facilitate recovery. There is no guarantee that any one or a combination of them will work. The best approach is to check with your doctor or a professional if signs of impetigo don’t improve after few days. Before using any remedy, ensure to have the correct guidelines on how it should be used. This is very important. Impetigo pregnancy association is not very clear. See your doctor before using oral medications.
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