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Published on Jan 1, 2015

Impetigo is a common and highly contagious type of skin infection. It is mainly a concern for young children, but can also impact others. Both Staphylococcus (staph) and Streptococcus (strep) bacteria can cause the condition.

The Indiana State Department of Health’s website shares the following about impetigo:

• How is impetigo spread? Impetigo is spread by direct contact with sores or mucus from the nose or throat of an infected person. The sores have large numbers of bacteria present, so impetigo is very contagious. Scratching or touching an infected area of the skin and then touching another part of the body can spread infection to that area. Impetigo can also spread from one person to another in the same manner. Hand-to-skin contact is the most common source for the spread of impetigo. Lesions will appear 1-3 days after the person is infected.

• Who is at risk for impetigo? Persons who have cuts, scratches, insect bites, or other breaks in the skin which come in contact with the bacteria that cause impetigo are at greatest risk. Crowded conditions and participation in skin-to-skin contact activities, such as sports, can increase the risk of infection. Persons who have chronic (long-term) skin conditions, such as eczema, are also more likely to get impetigo. Impetigo is most common among children 2-6 years of age.

• How do I know if I have impetigo? Symptoms start with red or pimple-like sores surrounded by red skin. These sores can appear anywhere on the body, but mostly on the face, arms, and legs. The lesions fill with pus, break open after a few days, and form a thick, honey-colored crust. Itching is common. The sores usually are not painful, although they may be tender to the touch.

• The primary method of prevention is keeping the skin clean by bathing or showering each day with soap and water, washing hands after each contact with someone who has impetigo, keeping fingernails short and clean, and washing all cuts, scratches, insects bites, or other wounds with soap and water.

These are just a few things to know about impetigo. To learn more about this or other indoor environmental, health and safety, indoor air quality, or occupational issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.


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