Impetigo is a common superficial skin infection that is highly contagious and is mostly seen in children. It can be either blistering or non-blistering. The non-blistering (non-bullous) form which makes up the majority of infections, is usually caused by staph aureus but occasionally strep pyogenes. It usually starts with small reddish patches measuring about 2-4mm that appear on the face, around the nose and mouth. The patches evolve to form small blisters, which commonly rupture, ooze for a few days, then form a yellowish-brown crust.The blistering (bullous) form of impetigo is caused by staph aureus. This most commonly occurs in young infants and may be associated with fever. It starts as a small blister particularly on the face, trunk or buttocks. The blister will slowly enlarge until it ruptures, leaving behind shiny skin, which then becomes eroded. If left untreated, impetigo usually clears on its own. However, since there is a possibility of complications, it is best to consult with a doctor.

Common features of impetigo include: Red sores that may rupture and ooze Yellow crusty lesions Fluid-filled blisters

The more common, non-blistering form of impetigo is caused by a staphylococcal infection, although streptococcus pyogenes is sometimes a cause.The blistering form of impetigo is caused by staph aureus, usually Phage II Type 71. Impetigo is spread easily by direct contact. It is more common in warm climates with high humidity and is often associated with mild skin trauma, such as cuts and scrapes.

Choose gentle cleansers for the skin, preferably in liquid form. These cleansers will gently remove dirt, excess oil, bacteria and cosmetics without irritating the skin. Avoid soaps, especially bar soaps, as they will often cause dry skin. When bathing, avoid scrubbing the skin too hard. This can irritate scar tissue. After washing, gently pat the skin dry with a towel. Moisturizers help to restore and maintain the skin’s natural moisture levels. Look for moisturizers specially designed for sensitive skin that are free of fragrances, dyes or other allergens that may irritate the skin.

Keeping the skin clean is the most effective way of preventing impetigo. Cuts or scrapes should be treated immediately. Thoroughly wash the wound out, and apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. If your child already has impetigo, it is best to keep them at home until they are no longer contagious.

The application of topical antibiotics such as mupirocin cream or ointment (Bactroban) is very effective. Fusidic acid (Fucidin) is also used. If the infection is more extensive, oral antibiotics such as Cloxacillin or Cephalexin are used as well as those in the erythromycin family.