Taking a look at Impetigo

English: impetigo Svenska: Infekterade svinkoppor
English: impetigo Svenska: Infekterade svinkoppor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With thousands of microorganisms everywhere, we are always at risk of getting infected by bacteria or viruses. But thankfully, our body is designed to have a first line barrier so good that as long as it can, it helps prevent bacterias and viruses from entering our body. Our skin is our first line barrier against any type of infection. Among its many functions and capabilities is it helps protect us from thousands of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.) from causing us harm. Although normally, no matter how many microorganism come in contact with our skin they are unable to cause infection. But sometimes, when infections do occur, they range from harmless to life-threatening infections that’s why we shouldn’t take any infection lightly.

We’ll take a look at bacterial skin infections, particularly Impetigo. You’ve probably heard it every now and then as this is infection is very common, especially among children.  Bacterial skin infections can be classified as either be primary or secondary. When the infection was caused by a single organism and originate from a previously infection free skin, it is considered primary bacterial infection. Secondary bacterial skin infection happens when there is a preexisting condition of the patient (either another skin infection, or an infection that arise because of surgery or another injury).

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection caused by Staphylococci, Streptococcus or both/multiple strains of bacteria.  It affects people of all ages but most commonly, in children. It can be spread to other people through close contact (skin to skin contact with others) and using/sharing personal items like comb, blankets, towels, clothing etc.

The lesions of impetigo (starting as small red macules and blisters filled with yellow/honey colored fluid) that eventually ruptures is very itchy and sometimes, painful. These can occur in any part of the body but are most commonly seen on exposed ares like the face and extremities. The intense itching prompts the infected person to scratch the lesions, causing its spread, not only to other parts of the body but to other persons as well that’s why scratching is not advisable.

Treatment of impetigo includes systemic antibiotic therapy prescribed by a doctor to be taken for 7-10 days which lowers down the risk of spreading it while treating the infection itself. Adherence to the antibiotic therapy is very important as it lowers down the risk of developing other conditions because untreated and recurring streptococcal infections lead to more serious diseases like acute glomerulonephritis and heart problems. Topical antibiotics may also be given and prescribed by the doctor when the the infection is still limited to a small area in the body. After a few days of taking and having the medication, healing should start a few days after. Impetigo does not usually leave scars so you shouldn’t worry.

Although minor, bacterial skin infections shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here are some ways
to prevent impetigo:

  • Practice good hygiene. Infections usually develop in those who do not practice good hygiene because dirty skin becomes a breeding place for bacteria (and viruses as well).
  • Regular handwashing with antibacterial/antimicrobial soap also helps.
  • Pay attention to cuts and bruises, as well as scrapes and rashes. Keep the affected are always clean and covered. Applying a first aid antibiotic cream after an injury is also helpful.
  • If you already have impetigo, avoid scratching the blisters to prevent its spread to other parts of your body.
  • When you have been prescribed with antibiotic treatment, be sure to follow and adhere to the schedule and duration of the treatment to ensure fast and effective recovery.
  • If there’s a member of the family that becomes infected with impetigo, help prevent the spread to other members of the family by separating the personal items of the infected person like blankets, linens, clothing, towels, etc. Be sure to wash them in hot water after.
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