Impetigo is an extremely contagious skin infection that causes sores around your baby’s nose and mouth. The sores can also appear on hands and the areas covered by a diaper. Fortunately, it’s a mild problem that goes away after a few weeks.
However, since it’s so contagious, you’ll need to keep your baby at home until a doctor prescribes antibiotics.

What Causes Impetigo?

Impetigo is caused by one of two bacteria called streptococcus pyogenes and staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria is easily spread between children in daycare settings and schools. It is more common during the warm, humid months. Children who participate in contact sports like football or wrestling are more susceptible to impetigo. The bacteria can also enter a child’s body through small scrapes, insect bites and other breaks on the skin.

Symptoms of Impetigo

There are two types of impetigo. The treatment is the same, regardless of the type.

Non-bullous or crusted impetigo is more common, but it usually occurs in older children. With this type, the small blisters burst and ooze fluid before a honey-colored crust appears.

The second type is more common among babies and younger children. Bullous impetigo causes larger blisters that take longer to burst, if they burst at all. Fluid in these blisters usually starts clear but may turn cloudy as the illness progresses.

The blisters can occur anywhere on the body but they are more likely to be on the face, neck, hands or buttocks and genital area if they child still wears diapers. The rash can be itchy so your baby may try to scratch. Prevent your baby from scratching at the blisters as this could lead to a more serious infection.

Should I Take My Baby to a Doctor?

Yes. Since impetigo is a bacterial infection, it should be treated with antibiotics.
Medication will be given as an oral treatment or a topical cream. The rash usually gets better a few days after mediation is started. However, your child will still be contagious for 24 hours after the first dose of medicine. Left untreated, impetigo can cause a more serious skin infection. While complications are rare, they can include;
• Ecthyma, a type of impetigo that penetrates deeper into the skin and causes pus-filled blisters.
• Cellutitis or an infection of deeper layers of skin. The infection can enter the bloodstream and lympth glands which cause a life-threatening condition.
• Kidney complications.
• Scarring from the blisters.

How Can I Treat Impetigo at Home?

Wash the infected areas using a clean piece of gauze and antiseptic soap. This will help remove the crusty layers. You should also cover the infected areas with gauze and tape to keep the infection from spreading to others. Keep fingernails trimmed and clean to prevent infections related to scratching.

Can Impetigo be Prevented?

Though it’s extremely contagious, impetigo can be prevented through hand and face washing. And if your child has a skin infection or rash due to insect bites, poison ivy or eczema, don’t let them scratch. Scratching irritated skin will allow bacteria to enter the body which could cause impetigo.

If your child has been diagnosed with impetigo, you should wash bed linens, toys, stuffed animals and towels in hot water since the bacteria can live on these surfaces.