Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. It is most common in children and is contagious. Impetigo forms round, crusted, oozing spots that grow larger day by day. The hands and face are the favorite locations for impetigo, but it often appears on other parts of the body.
While the bacteria causing impetigo may have been caught from someone else with impetigo or boils, impetigo usually begins out of the blue without any apparent source of infection.
Antibiotics taken by mouth usually clear up impetigo in four or five days. It's important for the antibiotic to be taken faithfully until the prescribed supply is completely used up.
An antibiotic ointment, such as Polysporin, should be applied thinly four times daily. Polysporin can be purchased without a prescription.
Crusts should be removed before the ointment is applied. Soak a soft, clean cloth in a mixture of one-half cup of white vinegar and a quart of lukewarm water. Press this cloth on the crusts for 10-15 minutes three or four times daily. Then gently wipe off the crusts and apply a little antibiotic ointment.
You can stop soaking the impetigo when crusts no longer form. When the skin is healed, stop the antibiotic ointment.
Impetigo is contagious when there is crusting or oozing. While it's contagious, take the following precautions:
Patients should avoid close contact with other people.
Children should be kept home from school until the lesions crust over.
Use separate towels for the patient. The patient's towels, pillowcases, and sheets should be changed after the first day of treatment. His or her clothing should be changed and laundered daily for the first two days.
Usually the contagious period ends within two days after treatment starts. If the impetigo doesn't heal in one week, please return for another evaluation.