Impetigo

Created: 03.08.2023

Updated: 29.12.2023

Approved by: General Practitioner, Dr Binita Parmar 

Impetigo is a prevalent skin infection that is highly contagious, though typically not severe. While it can affect anyone, it's particularly widespread among young children. With prompt treatment, impetigo often clears up within 7 to 10 days.

Identifying impetigo

One of the hallmark signs of impetigo is the appearance of red sores or blisters on the skin. For those with darker skin tones, the redness might be less noticeable. These sores or blisters rapidly burst, leaving behind crusty patches that are golden-brown in colour. These patches might:

  • Resemble cornflakes adhered to the skin.
  • Increase in size over time.
  • Spread to other parts of the body.
  • Cause itchiness or occasional pain.

Impetigo blisters or sores, also categorised as non-bullous or bullous impetigo, can manifest anywhere but are primarily seen on exposed areas such as the face and hands.

When to consult a doctor

If you suspect that you or your child has impetigo or if the symptoms change or worsen even after treatment, it's essential to see a GP. Furthermore, if someone has experienced recurrent episodes of impetigo, a medical consultation becomes crucial. Given that impetigo is highly infectious, it's a good idea to notify the GP in advance, potentially facilitating a phone consultation to prevent the spread.

Treatment

When consulting with a GP, they'll first ensure that the issue isn't a more severe condition, like cellulitis. If confirmed as impetigo, they might prescribe:

  • An antibiotic cream or ointment to hasten recovery.
  • Oral antibiotics for severe cases.
  • Occasionally, a non-antibiotic cream might be an option.

If impetigo frequently recurs, a GP can take a swab from around the nose to test for the causative bacteria. In such scenarios, an antiseptic nasal cream might be prescribed to eradicate the bacteria and prevent future episodes.

Completing the treatment

It's vital to follow through with the entire treatment regimen, even if there's a noticeable improvement. Discontinuing antibiotic creams or tablets prematurely can lead to complications.

Preventative measures during infection

Impetigo remains contagious until 48 hours after the initiation of the prescribed antibiotic treatment or until the patches have dried and formed a crust if treatment hasn't been sought.

There are several measures to prevent the spread or exacerbation of impetigo.

Do:

  • Stay home from school or work.
  • Keep affected areas clean and dry.
  • Use loose clothing or gauze bandages over the sores.
  • Regularly wash hands.
  • Cleanse flannels, sheets, and towels at high temperatures.
  • Clean children's toys using detergent and warm water.

Don’t:

  • Scratch or touch the affected regions.
  • Engage in close contact with vulnerable populations, like children or those with compromised immunity.
  • Share personal items such as flannels, sheets, or towels.
  • Prepare food for others.
  • Visit the gym or participate in contact sports.

Avoiding impetigo

Impetigo typically targets already damaged skin. To prevent the spreading of the infection:

  • Clean cuts, scratches, and insect bites using warm soapy water.
  • Seek prompt treatment for skin conditions like eczema.

How Dr.Dropin can help you

At Dr.Dropin you can meet experienced Dermatologists who can diagnose and treat all skin disorders. Dr.Dropin is committed to offering good skin services at a fixed and predictable price, and with a short waiting time.

Doctor

How Dr.Dropin can help you

At Dr.Dropin you can meet experienced dermatologists who can diagnose and treat all skin disorders. Dr.Dropin is committed to offering good skin services at a fixed and predictable price, and with a short waiting time.

General Practitioner

At Dr.Dropin our experienced GPs provide a wide range of primary care services, similar to those provided by the NHS, either in the clinic or through video consultations.

Dermatologist

At Dr.Dropin, you will receive specialist care from our expert Consultant Dermatologists provided by skindoc. With extensive experience from both public and private hospitals, we can assess and treat most chronic and acute skin disorders – either in the clinic, through video, or via a photo upload service.

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