Impetigo – What Is It, What Causes It and Is It Just a Cold Sore?

The two types of bacteria that cause the very contagious skin infection, impetigo, are staph and strep. Kids between the ages of two and six are most likely to have it appear on them. In it’s early stages it looks innocent enough. It can start from something as simple as a tiny scratch or a sore that looks akin to a fever blister.

A blister is then formed and it begins to secrete a brownish-yellow covering. It then has the ability to spread to others through use of their personal items. This can be things like washcloths, clothes, telephone or kitchen utensils.

This skin condition can appear as one of two types, non-bullous and bullous impetigo. The type that is most often encountered is the non-bullous strain. This is the type that is caused by staph and strep and is characteristic of the brownish-yellow blisters. Bullous is only caused by the staph bacteria and is characteristic of breakages in the skin.

Staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria are normally harmless until they are able to find a break in the skin where they inevitably enter and end up causing infection. Things you should be worried about are insect bites, burns or skin that has already been invaded by other types of infections. So watch out when you see that poison ivy or chickenpox!

If you suspect your child may have acquired it then get to the family doctor as soon as possible and stop sharing household items. They might take a sample from the blister with a cotton swab in order to test it.

Ok, I understand what impetigo is, but is it the same as a cold sore or fever blister?

It can be tough to tell the difference between impetigo and cold sores as they share many common symptoms: appearance, can look like blisters, crust over as they heal, and are located around the mouth.

On the other hand, cold sores (or fever blisters) are skin infections caused by a virus (the herpes simplex virus), and look like small reddish blisters. They are most often found on the corners of the mouth or around the lips. They normally go away on their own over a couple of weeks, developing scabs as they heal.

Since cold sores are also spread by touching or direct contact with affected area, make sure not to kiss, or share glasses, eating utensils, towels, or washcloths with someone if you have cold sores. Unlike impetigo, cold sores can be painful, especially during the first few days of appearance.

What can I do to help impetigo?

Your treatment plan will vary depending on which type of impetigo your baby has acquired, how severe it is and age. Things that are common in treatments are antibiotics (oral and topical) and specific measures at covering hygiene. If the infection is just minor it really can be treated by keeping the wound clean as a result of washing it 2 to 3 times a day with soap and water.

If the infection is really crusty then it is a good idea to keep it soaked with warm water or make a compress with saline solution. Make sure that you keep your childs fingernails cut nice and short to discourage scratching the problem area. The doctor is likely to prescribe some antibiotics such as bactroban.

You can also try some herbs to help fight it from the inside out. Extract of African Potato, Mentha Piperita and Buchu all help to keep the immune system healthy and strong. Cleavers and Red Clover can be mixed together, with specific homeopathic ingredients, into a tincture that helps to heal the skin.

What can I do to help a cold sore or fever blister?

While there is no cure or vaccine at this time, there are things you can do to ease the pain of cold sores, speed up their healing, and stop their spread. For pain, you can apply ice to the area or take over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Take 4 500mg Lysine at first sign of a cold sore. Take 1 each morning and 1 each evening for a few days and if caught early enough it will not progress but go away completely. If not caught early enough it will greatly reduce the amount of time for the outbreak and make the severity less. Lysine is very inexpensive and can be found in the vitamin section.