Impetigo is a temporary, but highly contagious, bacterial skin condition. It is typically a children’s ailment, but adults are not immune and can contract it following an infection or other skin problem.
Impetigo is caused by either streptococcus pyogenes or staphylococcus aureus type bacteria. The bacteria can infect the skin when there is skin-to-skin contact with someone who already has impetigo or by touching things they have come in contact with (i.e.: bedding, toys, cups, etc.). The impetigo bacteria may also infect the skin if it has been broken or hurt, such as from an insect or animal bite.
Symptoms of Impetigo
All types of impetigo exhibit fluid-filled sores and blisters that appear around the nose, mouth, neck, hands, arms, or legs. It takes a few days for the sores to pop, drain, and scab over in a yellow crust. Symptoms generally last about three weeks.
Treatment may depend on the type of impetigo. Nonbullous impetigo is the most common type begins with sores around the nose and mouth. Swollen lymph nodes may occur.
Infants and toddlers (under the age of two) commonly contract bullous impetigo. Clear blisters initially appear on legs (around the diaper area), arms, and torso. Areas become red and itchy and the blisters eventually turn cloudy.
The most chronic impetigo is ecythma. It affects the skin layer beneath the top layer skin. Blisters are deeper, more painful, and result in ulcers or aggravated open sores that leave scars.
Naturally Treating Impetigo
Simple hygiene methods aid healing and help prevent impetigo from spreading. Soaking the scab areas in soapy water or in a water and vinegar solution helps soothe the areas and removes some scabbing. Wash the infected areas several times a day and cover with anti-bacterial gauze dressings.
• Heat kills bacteria, and applying heat directly from a blow dryer or bathing in hot water can help raise the body temperature to help kill the bacteria.
• Vinegar is a naturally effective bacteria eradicator. Because it generates a burning sensation to open sores, it is not recommended to directly apply it on the infected area(s). Instead, make a hot vinegar bath by adding one quarter part vinegar to a tub of hot bath water.
• Tea tree oil is one of the best non-irritant antifungal to fight the bacteria. It prevents as well as heals impetigo. The tea tree oil stimulates monocytes which are a vital part of the immune system. To be effective, mix 8-10 drops of tea tree oil with water or olive oil and apply it with a cotton ball over the affected area. Repeat this at least 3 times a day.
• Aloe Vera juice or gel is a natural skin moisturizer that relieves itching when applied on infected areas..
• Garlic is a natural detoxifier that has allicin, an active antibacterial that eradicates only the bad bacteria, leaving good bacteria intact. Three garlic cloves/capsules should be consumed daily at the first signs of impetigo symptoms.