|Impetigo: Sores on the Upper Lip|
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- Group A Streptococcus
- Age: most impetigo occurs in preschool and school-aged children
- Touching a person with impetigo
- Touching the clothing, towels, sheets, or other personal items that belong to a person with impetigo
- Poor hygiene, particularly unwashed hands and dirty fingernails
- Crowded settings where there is direct person-to-person contact, such as schools and the military
- Contact sports such as football and wrestling
- Warm, humid environment
- Summer season
- Poor health or weakened immune system
- Tendency to have skin problems such as eczema, poison ivy, or skin allergy
- Cuts, scratches, insect bites, or other injury to the skin
- Lice infections which cause scratching (like scabies, head lice, or pubic lice)
- Ooze and become covered with a flat, dry, honey-colored crust
- Increase in size
- Spread, especially if scratched
- Glomerulonephritis—damage to part of the kidney
- Scarlet fever—illness that may include a fever, sore throat, and widespread rash
- Life-threatening invasive streptococcal disease
- Prescription topical antibiotic (such as mupirocin, retapamulin)
- Over-the-counter topical antibiotic such as neomycin, bacitracin, or polymyxin—may be significantly less effective
- Topical antibiotics for the inside of the nose—bacteria can hide in the nose and make it easy for the infection to return
- A penicillin
- Do not touch or scratch the lesions.
- Wash the skin several times a day. Use soap and water or an antibiotic soap.
- The crusts may be removed by soaking the infected area. Place warm water on the area for about 15 minutes.
- Lesions should be covered loosely with gauze, a bandage, or clothing.
Avoiding Spread of the Infection
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Make sure you wash under your fingernails where bacteria can hide. It is important to wash your hands after touching an infected area of your body.
- Avoid contact with newborn babies.
- Stay home until you have had treatment for 24 hours.
- Do not handle food at home until you have had treatment for at least 24 hours.
- If you work in the food service industry, ask your doctor when it is safe for you to return to work.
- Bathe daily with soap and water.
- Wash your face, hands, and hair regularly.
- If caring for someone with impetigo, be sure to wash your hands after each time you touch the person.
- Do not share towels, clothes, or sheets. This is more important with a person who has impetigo.
- Keep fingernails short and clean.
- Change and wash clothing often.
- Do not let your children play or have close contact with someone who may have impetigo.
- Wash wounds, such as cuts, scratches, or insect bites, with soap and water. Consider applying a small amount of antibiotic ointment. Cover the wound with a bandage.
American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org
Kid's Health for Parents http://www.kidshealth.org
Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca
American Osteopathic Association website. Available at: http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/impetigo.aspx. Accessed July 27, 2012
Impetigo. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated March 15, 2012. Accessed July 27, 2012.
Koning S, van der Wouden JC, et al. Efficacy and safety of retapamulin ointment as treatment of impetigo: randomized double-blind multicentre placebo-controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2008;158(5):1077-1082.
Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website. Available at: http://ideha.dhmh.md.gov/IDEHASharedDocuments/impetigo.pdf. Updated April 2008. Accessed July 27, 2012.
- Reviewer: David L Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 12/2013 -
- Update Date: 01/13/2014 -