Skin Conditions & Treatments > Impetigo

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Dermatology A-Z

•What causes impetigo?
–Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. It’s most common in children and is contagious. Impetigo forms round, crusted, oozing spots that grow larger day by day. The hands and face are the favorite locations for impetigo, but if often occurs on other parts of the body.
•How does one get impetigo?
–While the bacteria causing impetigo may have been caught from someone else with impetigo or boils, impetigo usually begins out of the blue without any apparent source of infection. Wrestlers and athletes in contact sports are prone to impetigo.
–Antibiotics taken by mouth usually clear up impetigo in four or five days. It’s most important for the antibiotic to be take faithfully until the prescription supply is completely used up. In addition, an antibiotic ointment should be applied thinly 2-4 times per day
–Crusts should be removed before ointment is applied. Soak a soft, clean cloth in a mixture of one-half cup white vinegar and a quart of lukewarm water. Press this cloth on the crusts for about 10-15 minutes, three to four times per day. Then gently wipe off the crusts and smear on a little antibiotic ointment. You may stop soaking when the crusts no longer form. When the skin has healed, stop the antibiotic ointment.
–Impetigo is contagious when there is oozing or crusting. While it’s contagious, take the following precautions:
•Patients should avoid close contact with other people
•Children should be kept home from school for 1-2 days
•Use separate towels for the patient. His/Her towels, pillowcases and sheets should be changed after the first day of treatment. The patient’s clothing should be changed and laundered daily for the first two days
•All of the above measure are only needed during the contagious-crusting or oozing-stage of impetigo. This should end within 2 days that treatment starts. Then children can return to school and normal laundering resumed.
–Warning! If impetigo does not heal within on week, please call the doctor

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