Young children are more prone to developing diseases resulting from bacterial infections, since they are still in their developmental stages, with their immune system yet to achieve full development. A very common skin infection seen among infants and children is impetigo.
Impetigo is a superficial infectious skin condition that is highly contagious. Children in the ages between 2 to 4 are more likely to suffer from this condition, though there have been cases reported where young adults and older people have been diagnosed with this condition as well. Generally, people who live in close quarters with others are more easily infected by this, by way of direct skin contact.
Impetigo in Children Causes and Symptoms
Children can never stay idle for long, and take part in recreational games to keep themselves engaged. In the bargain, minor skin scrapes, nips and bruises is normal to occur, which only tends to get neglected. However, these can develop into impetigo with the entry of bacteria through this break in skin. Even insect bites, rash caused by poison ivy, and other skin problems like eczema can become infected and change into impetigo.
Impetigo is caused by either of the following two bacteria types – the streptococci or the staphylococci bacteria. Impetigo types are also categorized into two – the bullous type and the non-bullous type. The non-bullous type of impetigo is the most common impetigo variant seen among children.
The infection first makes its presentation as a small inflamed elevation of skin that in no time turns into a blister, which eventually breaks open. After the fluid contents within oozes out, it tends to form a crusty outer covering, yellowish looking or honey colored in appearance.
Impetigo causes an uneasy irritating sensation on the affected skin areas, which tends to drive the sufferer to scratch at them. When the child touches other body surfaces after scratching, the infection will only spread.
Treating Impetigo in Children
If the infection is very mild, then it is not perceived as a serious condition, and usually no medications are prescribed. The physician may just request the parent to keep the affected area clean and dry at all times, and it will normally resolve on its own in a couple of weeks’ time. Of course, the parent should also make the child understand that the blister should never be touched, and if they do scratch it, then their hands should be washed immediately so as to avoid transferring the infection to other body areas, as well as to other children.
In a situation where there are quite a number of blisters, then a topical antibiotic will generally be prescribed. Before applying, the crusts should be gently removed during cleansing, to allow easy entry of the ointment into their skin when applied topically. After every application, hands must be thoroughly cleansed. Usually after a weeks’ time, some kind of improvement should be noted. If not, then the family physician should be noted about it, for then an oral antibiotic can be written out, which usually works when topical antibiotics fail to provide adequate results.
Oral antibiotics are very rarely needed, and are generally prescribed when the involved skin areas are of a large extent. If and when prescribed, the pills will have to be taken for 5 or 7 days, and the entire course will need to be completed even if symptoms do not persist.
Children are advised to follow good hygiene after play, and to wash skin areas immediately that have been subjected to any kind of trauma or injury. In case impetigo has been diagnosed in a child, then it is best that they stay away from friends and school until the infection has cleared, to avoid spreading their disease.