Contagious Impetigo in Children: Prevention and Treatment

February 7, 2019
Contagious impetigo can become complicated and lead to other, more serious diseases if treatment isn't carried out in time. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about this disease.

Contagious impetigo is a skin infection frequently seen during childhood, mainly in preschool-age children.

This pathology occurs in two ways: bullous impetigo and non-bullous impetigo, which constitutes a large percentage of cases. We’ll explain them in detail below.

Clinical forms of contagious impetigo

Your pediatrician will determine both the diagnoses and indicated treatment based on clinical criteria. A skin rash represents the main characteristic.

Two types of contagious impetigo exist:

Bullous impetigo

This type of contagious impetigo presents superficial bullae 5–30 mm in diameter, which can easily break and cause a scab. It usually appears on the trunk and genitals.

Contagious Impetigo in Children

Non-bullous impetigo

Non-bullous impetigo begins with the appearance of vesicular or pustular lesions 1–4 mm in diameter. They break very easily and give rise to thick crusts. In this case, the lesions usually appear on the face and extremities and can cause itching.

Fever doesn’t usually occur as a symptom of impetigo, but it can happen. In fact, children tend to have a good state of health in general despite having contagious impetigo.

Prevention methods

Impetigo tends to spread easily if preventative measures, including proper hygiene habits, aren’t adhered to. Even if your child hasn’t contracted this disease, you should follow certain recommendations:

Recommendations to prevent infection

  • Frequently wash hands.
  • Cut the child’s nails and keep them clean.
  • Dry the baby’s saliva correctly so no residue remains around his mouth. When left for a long time, this could favor the appearance of impetigo.
  • Keep skin hydrated with creams recommended by your pediatrician.
  • Check with the doctor immediately when you observe any skin rashes.

Recommendations to follow when the infection appears

  • Don’t share towels, clothes or any personal objects with anyone else.
  • Don’t touch or scratch the injured skin, as it could make it worse.
  • Wash your hands after coming in contact with any of the lesions.
  • Always wash clothes after one use.

Impetigo occurs more often in summer and in situations where children have poor hygiene habits.

Treatment

Whenever you notice a skin rash on your child, it’s essential to consult with your pediatrician, who will determine the correct course of treatment. In addition, feed your child a healthy diet, as this will help improve the health of the skin more quickly.

Focus on foods rich in vitamins A and C, as well as other foods that increase the child’s immune defenses, such as fish.

All of the food that the child eats must be approved by the doctor. A specialist must also prescribe pharmacological treatment, because the lesions may worsen with self-medication.

Contagious Impetigo in Children

Prognosis and complications

From the moment treatment begins, you should notice an improvement in the skin and the disappearance of lesions within 24 to 48 hours.

But a negative prognosis can also occur. In this case, the lesions become more extensive and spread on the skin. Some complications include:

  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis: This kidney disorder occurs after an infection. It occurs in the small vessels of the kidneys. It represents one of the main risk factors for developing albuminuria or nephritis.
  • Nephritis: Nephritis refers to an inflammation of the kidney caused by infections.
  • Deep invasion: By not having a good state of health, bacteria can penetrate the superficial layers of the skin. This causes infections such as cellulitis or erysipelas, with fever and malaise.

Sometimes we think that skin diseases don’t spread easily throughout the body, but they can. Their form of infection has wide-reaching effects. Therefore, we must pay special attention to the use of shared personal objects and skin hygiene.

Pérez C., Lilian, López B., Patricia, Barrios, Moema, Ulloa S., Raúl, Aguilera P., Sonia, Pefaur M., Cecilia, & Mayorga O., Clara. (2001). Etiología del impétigo infantil. Revista chilena de pediatría72(3), 199-203. https://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0370-41062001000300003

López Rodríguez, I. A. (2015). Factores causantes del impétigo en niños menores de 5 años, usuarios del Centro de Salud Arajuno, Provincia De Pastaza. Año 2013-2014 (Bachelor’s thesis, Loja).