How To Prevent The Spread Of Impetigo In Schools

How to prevent the spread of impetigo in schools

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that primarily affects children, particularly those in school settings. It is caused by either Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria and is characterised by red sores, blisters and a honey-coloured crust that forms after the sores burst. The infection can spread rapidly in schools, causing discomfort and stress among children and parents alike. Therefore, it’s important to implement effective measures to prevent the spread of impetigo in educational institutions.

Understanding Impetigo

Impetigo can manifest in two forms: nonbullous and bullous. Nonbullous impetigo is more common and is characterised by small red sores that quickly rupture and form a yellowish crust. Bullous impetigo, on the other hand, involves larger blisters filled with fluid. The infection usually occurs on the face, around the nose and mouth, but it can also appear on the hands, neck and extremities.

Symptoms and Signs of Impetigo

The symptoms of impetigo include red sores or blisters that may itch or hurt, swelling and tenderness in the affected area and the formation of a yellow or brown crust after the sores burst. In some cases, children may also experience fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Causes and Risk Factors

Impetigo is primarily caused by direct contact with the bacteria from an infected person or by touching objects contaminated with the bacteria, such as towels, clothing or toys. The risk of infection is higher in crowded environments, like schools, where children are in close contact with each other.

Preventing the Spread of Impetigo in Schools

Given its contagious nature, it is essential to implement measures to prevent its spread in schools. Here are some strategies to keep impetigo at bay:

  • Promote Good Hygiene: Encourage children to wash their hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the bathroom. Hand sanitisers can be used when soap and water are not available.
  • Educate Students and Staff: Raise awareness about impetigo, its symptoms and how it spreads. Teach children to avoid sharing personal items like towels, clothing and sports equipment.
  • Isolate Infected Children: Children with impetigo should stay home from school until they are no longer contagious, which is usually 24-48 hours after starting antibiotic treatment.
  • Encourage Prompt Treatment: Parents should be advised to seek medical attention if they suspect their child has impetigo. Early treatment with antibiotics can reduce the contagious period and prevent the spread of the infection.
  • Maintain Cleanliness: Regularly clean and disinfect shared surfaces and objects in the school, such as desks, door handles and sports equipment.
  • Implement a No-Share Policy: Discourage the sharing of personal items that come into contact with the skin, such as hats, hairbrushes and cosmetics.
  • Monitor and Report Cases: Keep track of impetigo cases in the school and report outbreaks to the local health department. This can help in managing the spread and implementing necessary control measures.
  • Use Protective Barriers: If a child has impetigo, covering the affected areas with gauze and tape can help prevent the bacteria from spreading to other children.

What’s the Next Step?

Impetigo is a common childhood infection that can spread quickly in school settings. By implementing preventive measures such as promoting good hygiene, educating students and staff and encouraging prompt treatment, schools can significantly reduce the risk of impetigo outbreaks.

Early detection and isolation of infected children are also important in preventing the spread of the infection. With Pharmacy First you can access treatments for minor ailments, including impetigo, without visiting a GP.

For expert advice and treatment for impetigo, book an online consultation with Pharmacy to My Door. Get professional healthcare from the comfort of your home and have your prescribed medication delivered directly to your doorstep.

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