Identifying Impetigo Early: Signs And Symptoms

Identifying early signs and symptoms of impetigo

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that predominantly affects young children, although adults can contract it as well. Early identification and treatment are important to prevent its spread and to alleviate symptoms promptly.

In this article, we will discuss the early indicators of impetigo, helping you to identify and respond to this common infection effectively.

Early Signs and Symptoms

Recognising the early signs of impetigo can help in seeking timely treatment and preventing the infection from spreading. Here are the key symptoms to watch for impetigo:

Red Sores and Blisters

The first sign of impetigo often appears as small red sores or blisters. These sores are usually found on the face, especially around the nose and mouth, but they can also appear on other parts of the body, such as the hands and feet.

In bullous impetigo, the blisters are larger and filled with a clear or yellowish fluid. These blisters may break open, leaving behind a raw area that forms a honey-coloured crust.

Itching and Discomfort

The affected area may be itchy, causing significant discomfort. Scratching the sores can lead to further irritation and increase the risk of spreading the infection to other parts of the body or to other individuals. It’s important to discourage children from scratching the sores to prevent complications.

Rapid Spread of Sores

Impetigo sores can spread quickly, both in terms of size and number. The infection can easily spread through physical contact, shared towels, clothing or other personal items. If multiple sores appear and spread rapidly, it is a strong indication of impetigo.

Honey-Coloured Crust

One of the hallmark signs of impetigo is the formation of a thick, honey-coloured crust over the sores. This crust is a result of the fluid from the blisters drying up. The crusts can be quite distinctive and are often the primary clue for diagnosing impetigo.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

In some cases, the lymph nodes near the affected area may become swollen. This is a sign that the body is fighting off the infection. Swollen lymph nodes are typically tender to the touch and can be an additional indicator of a bacterial infection like impetigo.

Differences Between Non-Bullous and Bullous Impetigo

While both forms of impetigo share common symptoms, there are some differences in their presentation.

Non-bullous impetigo is the more common form, characterised by small, red sores that quickly rupture, ooze for a few days and then form a yellowish-brown crust. These sores usually heal without scarring unless scratched excessively.

Bullous impetigo is a less common form that results in larger blisters filled with fluid. These blisters can be found on the trunk, arms and legs and may take longer to heal. The skin around the blisters can become red and itchy.

Diagnosing Impetigo

If impetigo is suspected, it is important to seek medical advice for a proper diagnosis. A healthcare provider can typically diagnose impetigo based on the appearance of the sores and the presence of the characteristic honey-coloured crusts. In some cases, a sample of the fluid from the blisters or crusts may be taken to identify the specific bacteria causing the infection, which can help in selecting the most effective impetigo treatment.

How to Treat Impetigo?

Once impetigo is diagnosed, prompt treatment is necessary to reduce symptoms, prevent complications and stop the spread of the infection. Treatment options for impetigo include:

Topical Antibiotics

For mild cases of impetigo, topical antibiotics such as mupirocin or retapamulin are commonly prescribed. These medications are applied directly to the affected area several times a day for about a week. It’s important to follow the prescribed treatment regimen to ensure the infection is fully eradicated.

Oral Antibiotics

In more severe cases or when the infection is widespread, oral antibiotics may be necessary. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include dicloxacillin, cephalexin and clindamycin. Oral antibiotics are typically taken for 7-10 days and it is important to complete the entire course to prevent recurrence and resistance.

Hygiene and Home Care

Maintaining good hygiene is essential in managing impetigo and preventing its spread. Wash the affected areas gently with soap and water and keep them covered with clean, dry bandages. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, clothing and bedding. Regular handwashing with soap and water is also important, especially after touching the infected areas.

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Early identification and treatment of impetigo are important to prevent its spread and minimise discomfort. Recognising the signs and symptoms—such as red sores, blisters, itching, rapid spread and honey-coloured crusts—can help in seeking timely medical intervention.

For quick and convenient access to treatment for common conditions like impetigo, book an online consultation with Pharmacy to My Door. This service ensures you get the necessary medications and advice without the need for a doctor’s appointment. Our qualified pharmacists are ready to help you manage your symptoms and provide effective solutions promptly.

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