Impetigo – What is It and How Can it Be Cured?

Person with Impetigo on the face.
Impetigo is a contagious bacterial skin infection. It can be treated with antisptic or antibiotic cream.

Impetigo is a common bacterial skin condition in children. But adults can contract the infection too. The bacteria that causes Impetigo is staphylococcus aureus. 

It passes on through skin-to-skin contact. Impetigo can also spread from contact with bedding or towels. It very often affects skin that has cuts or grazes or has a problem with eczema.

People with head lice, cold sores or scabies are also susceptible. People who have nothing on their skin can also contract Impetigo and so too can people who have a health condition like diabetes.

What are the Symptoms of Impetigo?

There are two types of Impetigo. The most common condition is non-bullous Impetigo.

You might have non-bullous Impetigo if you have a rash of small blisters around your nose and mouth or on your hands.

The blisters fill with pus which ooze and then break. The broken blisters will leave a brown or yellow crust. These crusts eventually heal leaving some redness for a while. There won’t be any scarring.

Bullous Impetigo

You will still see pus-filled blisters. But they might appear between your waist and neck or on your arms and legs. The blisters are often painful and itchy. You might also have swollen glands and a temperature.

Should I see my Doctor or Pharmacist?

Yes. You can see your doctor, or you can make an appointment at your pharmacy under the Pharmacy First Service. This service began on the 31 January. It is a new service which enables you to make an appointment to see your pharmacist rather than your doctor.

Your pharmacist can give you advice and treatment for a range of common health conditions. Impetigo is on the list.

What’s the treatment for Impetigo?

Your prescription might include an antibacterial soap and antiseptic cream. The cream will contain 1% hydrogen peroxide. Use the liquid soap regularly to remove the crusts and apply the cream to the patches that the crusts leave.

Your Doctor or Pharmacist will recommend that you apply the cream two or three times a day over 5 to 7 days until they have cleared up.

If the outbreak of Impetigo is severe, or it is Bullous Impetigo you might be prescribed antibiotic cream and/or oral antibiotics.

Do antibiotics have any side effects?

The most common side effects of Impetigo are feeling sick, diarrhoea and vomiting. Antibiotic cream may cause redness, irritation, or itchiness.

How long does Impetigo take to cure?

You should see an improvement within one week of starting treatment.

Can I reduce the risk of catching Impetigo?

Wash your hands often and if you have skin wounds make sure they are cleaned regularly.  Cover open wounds with a bandage to keep it clean.

If you have a skin infection keep out of hot tubs, swimming pools and the sea.

What about looking after myself? 

  • Wash clothes, towels, and bedding regularly. If you have Impetigo, you should wash towels and clothes every day on a hot wash.
  • Don’t share towels or bedding with other people because Impetigo is contagious.
  • If you use a skin cream don’t put your fingers into the pot if you have Impetigo. Instead, use a spoon to remove the cream.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist if your symptoms change whilst you have Impetigo as sometimes there can be complications.

How do I contact the Pharmacy?

To contact us at VSM Pharmacy for an appointment, please phone us on 01276 21002. We are open from Monday to Friday between 9 am and 6pm or on Saturday from 9am until 2pm. The Pharmacy First Service is available to adults and children over the age of 2 years.

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