What is impetigo – occurrence, cause and who may be affected?
Impetigo is a bacterial infection affecting the skin. Infection leads to the formation of blisters all over the body, more pronounced near the nose and mouth. Impetigo is more common during summer where the weather is hot and humid. It is a contagious disease, transmitted from person to person after direct contact with the blisters.
Two groups of bacteria are responsible for causing this infection:
- Group A streptococci; Streptococcus pyogenes
- Staphylococcus aureus
Children, specially those below the age of 3, and young adults are the ones who are most likely to be affected by these bacteria, while adults may suffer from impetigo as a consequence of skin problems or infections infesting the respiratory tract.
Symptoms of Impetigo
- Itchy rashes / red sores
- Blisters form from the rashes and sores
- Blisters may be filled with pus
- Oozing of blisters
- Sores may grow in size
- Spread of the sores
- Blisters break to form crusts and scabs which are honey-colored
- Swollen lymph nodes near sites of infection
The blisters start appearing around a week (4 to 10 days for Staphylococcus and 1-3 days for Streptococcus) after exposure to the fluids seeped out from the blisters of an infected person.
How do the bacteria infect the skin?
The skin forms a physical barrier between our internal components and our environment. It hence provides protection from the harmful substances in the atmosphere. Bacteria normally found on the skin play a major role in guarding the body from other harmful microorganisms; we need these bacteria, in a certain amount, in the make-up of our skin to guard us from more potent ones which could cause diseases. However, if the physical barrier – the skin – is breached, unwanted bacteria may successfully find their way inside our system. Breaks in the skin, therefore, allow for the bacteria to reach the internal environment of our bodies. This may occur as a consequence of animal and insect bites, or injuries. That is how the impetigo bacteria infiltrate into the system of humans. However, they may also do so without any visible break of the skin.
Treatment for Impetigo
Antibiotics do the job of killing the harmful bacteria; they are used as antibiotic creams or pills. They work in approximately 3 days.
Prevention of Impetigo
To prevent spread of the disease, a number of steps and precautionary measures should be followed:-
- The rashes should be washed with soap and water.
- The rashes must be covered with bandages.
- The hands should always be fully washed after having touched the rashes over the skin.
- One infected should keep away from public places in order to avoid infecting others, until one is cured from the disease.
- Special care has to be taken to avoid touching babies.
- Clothing used by the infected people which have not been washed thoroughly should not be used by others.