What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection which is highly contagious. It is most commonly found in children, although in rare cases it can be found in adults.

It is caused by the staphylococcus bacteria, and is not considered dangerous but needs to be treated to prevent spreading and infecting those who come into contact with the patient.

What does impetigo look like?

It first appears as a small scratch or an itchy piece of inflamed skin. Small blisters then develop and these can rupture releasing a yellow fluid. The top of the blister then becomes crusty, and new blisters develop in the same place or in different parts of the body. If you notice anything like this on your child's body, visit a doctor immediately.

Who is most at risk of developing impetigo?

Children are most at risk of developing impetigo. Children and adolescents who have the skin condition eczema are especially at risk.

On which part of the body is impetigo most likely to be found?

Impetigo usually appears on the face, especially around the areas of the mouth and nose. However it can appear on other exposed sites such as the arms and legs.

How is impetigo spread?

Impetigo is extremely contagious. It can be spread from one person to another through touch or shared items such as clothes and towels. However a person can also spread it to another part of their own body through scratching or picking at blisters.

What happens if my child scratches her impetigo?

The impetigo blisters are packed with bacteria, therefore if she scratches the blisters; she will release these bacteria causing the impetigo to spread on her own body, as well as possibly passing it on to others.

One of the reasons why impetigo is so contagious is because most people, especially young children, find it very difficult not to scratch or at least touch their impetigo.

You should encourage your child to avoid scratching or touching it, get them to wash their hands regularly (preferably with anti-bacterial soap), and cut their nails short.

And remember if you touch your child's impetigo for any reason, make sure you wash your hands too.

How can I stop my child from developing impetigo?

Good hygiene is the key. Keep your child's nails short. Make sure they wash their hands regularly. Discourage them from sharing things such as clothes and towels, especially in places where impetigo could be rife, such as public swimming pools.

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