Finding a rash on your child’s body can be alarming, and diagnosing is often confusing. Although not all skin rashes need immediate attention, it is important to let a dermatologist give you an accurate diagnosis so that it can be treated accordingly. Impetigo is among the most common skin rashes in children, and it is one that needs treatment to keep it from spreading.
Here’s some FAQs to help you understand impetigo:
What is impetigo?
- Impetigo is a skin infection that is marked by a honey-colored scab covering a blistery rash. It typically appears on the face around the mouth or nose, but it can also appear in the genital area.
What causes impetigo?
- Impetigo is a bacterial infection that is most often caused by a combination of streptococcus and staphylococcus. You may first see it under your child’s nose when they have a runny nose. Impetigo is spread from direct contact, including touching an object containing the infectious bacteria and then touching an area of broken skin.
What should I look for?
- Your child’s impetigo rash may begin as small red bumps. However, it will quickly change to cloudy blisters and pimples before becoming sores. You will notice a honey-colored scab on each blister, which is caused when the oozing fluid dries. Without treatment, impetigo sores spread in size and in number.
How is impetigo treated?
- Since impetigo is a bacterial skin infection, antibiotics are needed to eradicate the rash. This may be in the form of ointment (over-the-counter or prescribed). If your child’s impetigo is more advanced, a course of oral antibiotics may be recommended.
How long will it take to go away?
- As long as you follow the recommended treatment, you should notice that your child’s skin is completely healed within a week. Do not be alarmed if you see some skin discoloration after the rash clears; this is usually not permanent.
Is impetigo contagious?
- Impetigo is highly contagious. Do not share towels or washcloths with a family member who has impetigo. Keep your child home from school at least 24 hours after oral antibiotic treatment has begun and 48 hours after antibiotic ointment.
How can we prevent it from spreading?
- An important step to preventing impetigo from spreading is to keep your child’s hands away from the affected skin site. This can create new impetigo sores and increase the risk that your child will pass it on to someone else. Wash hands diligently and keep your child’s fingernails short.
When should we call the doctor?
- If your child has been on antibiotics for 48 hours and the number and/or size of impetigo sores are increasing, give us a call. We also need to know if the impetigo rash is accompanied by a fever or sore throat.
- At Olansky Dermatology Associates, we specialize in pediatric skin conditions. When it comes to your child’s skin, make sure you see a specialist and avoid diagnosing your child using the Internet or your own assumptions. With the proper treatment, impetigo can be well contained and healed quickly.