Impetigo is an infection of the skin which is caused by bacteria known as staphylococci or streptococci, or by a combination of the two. It often occurs in seasonal outbreaks in the spring and fall, though it may be seen throughout the year. In the past, impetigo was falsely blamed on poor personal hygiene, but this is not true. Impetigo occurs when a patient is exposed during the course of normal day to day contact with other persons. Impetigo quite often occurs in children, in the area surrounding the nose and mouth. In this situation, the skin disease indicates the presence of the same germ in the nose and throat, and it may be spread by sneezing or coughing. It may also be spread by direct skin to skin contact with an infected person.
● Do not vigorously soap or scrub the affected areas. This will further irritate them and prevent healing.
● Gently soak or compress the affected areas with lukewarm tap water and a soft cloth for 5-10 minutes several times daily. This will help to remove scabs, drainage, and bacteria growing on the skin surface.
● Following the compresses, apply any prescribed ointment sparingly over the entire affected area and rub in well.
● Leave the affected areas open to the air. Do not cover them with band-aids or dressings.
● If an oral antibiotic is prescribed, be certain to take this for the entire recommended period of time. Do this even if the rash is greatly improved before the prescription is finished.
● Impetigo is regarded as a contagious disease. Children who develop it will generally need to be kept home from school, and prevented from coming into contact with other children for several days. Patients whose jobs bring them into contact with the public, such as teachers and healthcare workers, should remain off work for several days. For protection of the rest of the family, towels and washcloths should not be shared while the rash is present.
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