Impetigo is a contagious skin infection that affects many infants and children. This infection is characterized by the appearance of red spots and blisters on the skin, especially on the face, hands and feet.
Impetigo is not a serious condition, but it is very easy to spread the disease. The infection can occur on healthy skin (primary impetigo) or as a result of another condition (secondary impetigo), such as atopic eczema .
Causes of Impetigo
The main cause of impetigo is a bacterial infection . Bacteria can be transmitted through direct contact with sufferers or through intermediaries in the form of items previously used by sufferers, such as clothes or towels.
Infection is more easily transmitted if there is an open wound, such as a scratch, insect bite, or injury from a fall. These wounds make it easier for bacteria to enter the body. Impetigo can also result from other skin disorders, such as atopic eczema or scabies .
Impetigo can be experienced by anyone, but is more common in children aged 2–5 years. This is because their immune system is not strong enough to fight the bacteria that cause infection.
There are several other factors that can increase a person's risk of developing impetigo, namely:
- Have diabetes
- Have a weak immune system, for example due to suffering from HIV / AIDS
- Engage in sports that involve skin-to-skin contact with other people, such as wrestling or soccer
- Live in a densely populated area.
Symptoms of impetigo do not appear immediately after the patient is infected. Symptoms usually appear 4–10 days after the patient is first exposed to the bacteria. Complaints that appear also vary, depending on the type of impetigo experienced.
The following are symptoms of impetigo by type:
Crusted impetigo is the most common type of impetigo in children and is more easily transmitted. Symptoms of crusted impetigo include:
- Red itchy patches around the mouth and nose, but don't cause pain
- Wounds on spots due to scratching
- Irritation of the skin around the wound
- Yellow-brown scabs around the wound
- Red marks on the skin due to scabs that can disappear within a few days or weeks
Bullous impetigo is a more serious type of impetigo. Symptoms include:
- Blisters filled with clear fluid on the body between the neck and waist, and arms and legs
- Pain in the area of the blister and itching of the skin around it
- The blisters burst, spread, and form a yellowish scab, which disappears after a few days
Sometimes, bullous impetigo is also accompanied by fever and the appearance of a lump around the neck due to swollen lymph nodes .
When to see a doctor
Immediately consult a dermatologist if you experience the symptoms of impetigo as mentioned above. You have to be more vigilant if these symptoms occur for more than a week.
Impetigo must be treated as soon as possible, because early detection and treatment can inhibit or stop the spread of infection, as well as speed up the healing process.
During the initial examination, the doctor will ask about symptoms and check for conditions on the skin that are infected, such as blisters or sores.
The doctor can also examine fluid samples from wounds on the skin. The goal is to detect the type of bacteria that causes impetigo and determine the right treatment.
If necessary, the doctor will take and examine samples of skin tissue in the laboratory. This examination is carried out if symptoms are suspected to be caused by other conditions.
Antibiotic ointment or cream, such as mupirocin or polymyxin B , is used if the infection is mild, only affects one area of the body, and has not spread too widely. Before applying an antibiotic cream or cream, it is recommended to soak the wound in warm water or apply a warm compress to soften the scab .
If impetigo gets worse and starts to spread to other parts of the body, the doctor will give antibiotics in tablet form, such as clindamycin or cephalosporin class antibiotics .
Antibiotic tablets are also given if creams or ointments are no longer effective in treating impetigo. It is important to remember, do not stop taking the drug without a doctor's permission even though the symptoms have improved, so that the infection does not recur.
Impetigo is generally harmless. However, if not treated properly, impetigo can cause complications in the form of:
- Cellulitis , or infection of the skin and fat tissue
- Guttate psoriasis, which is a skin disorder characterized by a rash resembling water droplets
- Scarlet fever , which is a fever accompanied by a red rash all over the body
- Glomerulonephritis , which is inflammation of the kidneys
- SSSS ( staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome ), which is a bacterial infection that causes the skin to blister like a burn.
Impetigo is a contagious disease. Therefore, the best way to prevent transmission is to maintain cleanliness and the environment. Some efforts that can be done are:
- Wash your hands frequently , especially after going outside
- Closing the wound to prevent bacteria from entering the body
- Cut and always keep the nails clean
- Don't touch or scratch the wound to lower the risk of spreading infection
- Washing clothes or cleaning objects that have been used, to kill bacteria
- Avoid sharing eating utensils, towels, or clothing with people with impetigo
- Change sheets, towels , or clothes used by sufferers every day, until the wound is no longer transmitting infection.
Children who suffer from impetigo are strongly advised not to leave the house until their symptoms subside. This action is taken to reduce interaction with other children who can increase the risk of transmission.