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What causes Impetigo?
Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. It is most common in children and is contagious. In fact, the medical term is Impetigo Contagiosum. Impetigo forms round, crusted, oozing spots that can grow larger by the day. The hands and face are the favorite locations for Impetigo, but it can often appear on any other part of the body. Sometimes Impetigo can also form blisters.
How does one get Impetigo?
While the bacteria causing Impetigo may have been caught from someone else with the condition, it typically begins out of the blue, without any apparent source of the infection.
When there are only a few spots, Impetigo is best treated by applying a topical prescription-strength antibiotic ointment four times a day to every spot of Impetigo. Continue to apply the ointment until the skin is healed. It is very important to use the prescription antibiotic ointment only. Other over-the-counter antibiotic ointments are not nearly as effective against Impetigo. If Impetigo is widespread, it is best treated with antibiotics taken by mouth. It is important that you take the antibiotic until the prescribed supply is completely used up.
Impetigo is contagious when there is crusting or oozing. During the contagious period, the following precautions should be taken:
1. Patients should avoid close contact with other people.
2. Children should be kept home from school for one to two days after beginning the treatment.
3. Use separate towels for the patient. Towels, pillow cases, 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 using hot water and a general detergent.
These measures are necessary only during the contagious (crusting or oozing) stage of Impetigo. Usually, the contagious period ends within two days after beginning treatment. Then children can return to school and special laundering and other precautions can be stopped. If the Impetigo does not heal in one week, Dr. Crutchfield will perform additional evaluation.