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Several bacterial colonies are actually found on human skin, some of which can bring harm, but most of them being of the harmless type. The harmful types invade the skin usually when an opening in the skin occurs, by way of bruises, small cuts or other skin abnormalities, like eczema or dermatitis conditions. The most common type of bacterial skin infection noted among children in the age group of one to four, is this disorder known as impetigo.
A contagious skin infection, caused by certain strains of bacteria, is known as impetigo. The bacteria that bring about a sore throat, the streptococcus pyogenes, or the staphylococcus aureus are the ones that cause impetigo to occur. Either one of the bacterial strain, or a mixture of both can possibly trigger an impetigo infection.
Any individual can become infected with the impetigo bacteria, but it is more commonly perceived in young children. Children are more prone to accidents while playing, that result in skin cuts, bruises and abrasions, and it is through this skin opening that the bacteria enters and triggers the infectious process.
Types of Impetigo and its Symptoms
There are two variants of impetigo – the non-bullous type and the bullous type. Non-bullous type is what people commonly suffer from.
Initially, in this type of impetigo, the patient will become aware of small elevated skin bumps, red and inflamed, usually seen around the chin, mouth and nose. These will burst open soon to exude a watery substance, that will gradually harden up to form yellow or honey colored crusts. The crusts or scabs will eventually dry up and leave behind a red mark on the skin that will go away without forming any scars. Some patients may note increased itchiness and soreness of skin, but no pain symptoms will be perceived. Some even complain of swollen lymph glands around their neck.
This impetigo type usually results in fluid-filled skin pouches that are deficient in firmness, and hence do not break open easily. Other than the face, the extremities and trunk areas will also get infected by the bacteria. It will take a lot of time for the blisters to open up and ooze out the fluid, which will then leave behind the honey-colored crusts. People are more likely to experience swollen glands and fever with this impetigo type. This form of impetigo usually takes up a lot of time to get completely cured.
There are two possible ways for an individual to get infected by the impetigo virus.
– One is when the skin has already been damaged by some other form of skin abnormalities. This makes it easier for the bacteria to pass through the skin’s barrier and cause impetigo.
– The other manner is when the skin get’s cut or abraded. The bacteria will enter through this small skin opening and begin to colonize within, initiating impetigo sores.
Daily Care Routine for Impetigo Sufferers
In order to ensure that the infection does not spread to others, the patient should take the following steps–
– The infected skin areas should be thoroughly cleansed and covered with sterile gauze after applying medicines over them.
– While applying topical creams, the hand must be washed before and after application. If possible, remove the scabs before applying medicated creams for faster healing.
– The patient should try and avoid touching the rash, even if they seem to itch. In case this is not possible due to increased itchiness, then hands must be washed every time the sores have been touched.
– Sleeping quarters, bed linen, towels and clothes should never be shared with others. Blankets, bedspreads, towels and daily wear should be replaced every day and laundered in warm soapy solution daily.
– Nails should be clipped short, for bacteria can harbor there as well.
– Avoid going to school, workplace, gym or any other public place where people can come in contact with the patient accidently and get infected.
Diagnosing Impetigo and Impetigo Complications
Generally, it is easy for a family practitioner to identify impetigo by the characteristic skin elevations and fluid-filled skin pouches seen in this condition. However, some may prefer doing a skin biopsy to rule out other possibilities, or to identify other complexities related to it.
In truth, impetigo when failed to get diagnosed and treated early on, can lead to various kinds of complications like –
– The infection spreading to deeper skin layers and causing cellulitis.
– Inflammation of the vessels that carry lymph from the body tissues to the circulatory system, lymphagnitis.
– Scarlet fever caused by the streptococcus bacteria, or even
– Bacterial infection of the blood, otherwise known as septicemia, which can prove to be fatal.
In some, once impetigo has been successfully treated, they can still go on to develop a non-infectious skin disorder, known as guttate psoriasis. This usually develops in young children who have just had an attack of some form of a bacterial infection.
Impetigo Treatment Methods
Impetigo is not considered as a dangerous skin disorder. In fact, this is something that will clear up on its own within a couple of weeks’ time. But, getting it treated immediately is necessary because of the condition being highly contagious. Preventing its spread is important, and because this is a condition brought on by bacteria, treatment with antibiotics is usually done. Antibiotics may be prescribed in the form of topical applicants or as oral pills. The medications will have to be taken or applied for the entire course of seven days, even if symptom relief is obtained before this.
Antibiotic Cream – Antibiotic topical creams prescribed for impetigo cure are usually –
– Fuscidic acid.
However, if patients have already used these creams in the past to treat some other form of skin abnormalities, then these antibiotics will prove to be ineffective, for the bacteria would have developed a resistance to them. In such cases, the use of antiseptics containing hydrogen peroxide or iodine will be recommended.
With topical antibiotic use, care should be taken to wash and clean the infected skin area before its application every time. Also, it is suggested that gloves be worn during cream application, and hands washed thoroughly after cream application.
Antibiotic creams cannot be applied over a large skin area, and for severe cases of impetigo, that has involved extensive area of skin, then oral antibiotics are generally prescribed.
Oral antibiotics given normally for impetigo cure are –
In case the impetigo condition is found to be caused by the streptococcus bacteria, then penicillin drugs will be used for treatment purposes.
With the commencement of antibiotic treatment, after 48 hours being on this treatment, the patient will stop being capable of spreading their infection to others. Hence, they can resume schooling or going to work two days after starting antibiotic medications.
The problem faced by patients who are on oral antibiotics are – nausea/vomiting, stomach discomfort, indigestion problems, watery stools, and sometimes yeast infections in women sufferers.
In case the sores have not stopped to ooze and crust, then it means that the infection still persists, and if it continues to remain so even after being on a week-long antibiotic treatment, then the family physician should not be notified about it.
Treating Impetigo Naturally
Along with antibiotic use, sufferers could also try applying natural ingredients over their impetigo sores so as to provide additional support to their body in obtaining faster cure. Some natural ingredients that could be used for this purpose are as follows –
– Coconut Oil The oil obtained from a coconut is found to contain certain acids in them that have been proven to be destructive to various strains of bacteria, including those causing impetigo. Apply coconut oil over the infected skin areas liberally, to not only kill the bacteria, but also to get a glowing skin minus any scars.
– Manuka Honey This form of honey has been used for medicinal purposes for a long, long time. The honey obtained should be in its rawest form possible, for this contains maximum antibacterial properties, which when applied over the skin sores, will take care of the bacteria and the skin condition caused by them as well. One could alternate honey application with coconut oil application for impetigo relief.
– Apple Cider Vinegar This is vinegar made from fermented apple juice, and this too contains anti-microbial properties. One could use this to cleanse their impetigo affected skin areas, to reduce the inflammation and itchiness that usually accompanies the condition.
Take three parts of water and dilute one part of apple cider vinegar in it. Soak a cotton swab in this solution and dab it over the impetigo sores.
Doctors lay stress on this point that if impetigo fail to resolve even after following the usual treatment methods, then the patient’s family physician must be notified about it. Probably then, other treatment options can be considered. Medical help is something that is unquestionably required for curing impetigo, so seek help when needed.
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