What does impetigo look like? How can you tell the difference between impetigo and other skin irritations? How serious is impetigo? Will it cause scarring? When you hear this skin infection come up in discussion, many questions tend to leap to the mind.
Impetigo is a serious skin infection caused by either strep or staph bacteria. Once you develop impetigo, you are contagious and can spread impetigo to other parts of your body or other people. Impetigo should be treated by a doctor as soon as it is discovered to prevent spreading and to minimize damage done to the skin. Left untreated, impetigo can cause scarring and serious infections.
Impetigo is easy to spot. In children it usually occurs around the mouth or nose because children often have runny noses and allow their mouths to become irritated through excess saliva and wetness from things like pacifiers, sippy cup lids and bottles.
This form of impetigo usually starts as a red sore or two around your child's mouth or nose. The sore ruptures, spreading more bacteria in the vulnerable area, resulting in a bunch of little blisters and sores that then crust over. The crust is usually honey-colored and looks like brown sugar. Underneath the brown sugar crust is a red sore that will heal without scarring if it is treated relatively quickly. The sores are usually itchy, but are not terribly painful.
Sometimes impetigo develops on other parts of the body, usually in relationship to a scratch, scrape or other compromise of the skin. This type of impetigo forms blisters full of fluid that are surprisingly painless and causes a lot of itching. When these blisters burst, they cause the same brown sugar-like crusting.
If impetigo goes untreated, it may develop into deep, painful blisters and sores that affect the deeper layers of skin. You may also develop swollen lymph nodes and red, itchy areas around the blisters. If you begin to have serious ulcers, you need to get to a doctor immediately for treatment, since the infection may become very difficult to treat.