Treating Impetigo

Mosquitoes are out in full force and while we are seeing higher than normal cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in many states, we pediatricians are more often diagnosing impetigo secondary to bug bites, than a case of WNV (thank goodness!). 

Those pesky mosquito bites, or any other type of insect bite (hopefully you are applying bug spray to your kids as well) just scream for a child to scratch them. With scratching comes abrasion to the surface of the skin and those little fingers (even if washed) harbor bacteria that can penetrate the breaks in the skin and set up an infection.  Once those fingers go on to scratch yet another bite the infection can be moved from place to place (the name for the spread of the infection by the fingers is auto-inoculation) and before you know it you see several to many little inflamed, honey crusted, weeping lesions on the skin surface. This is classic impetigo (not INFANTIGO as some like to call it). 

Impetigo is typically caused by the bacteria staph or strep and even frequently washed hands harbor bacteria.  If you notice one or two bites that are looking inflamed and weepy it may just take a prescription antibiotic ointment to treat the infection. 

In some cases the area of infection involves multiple areas on the face, arms, legs, and buttocks (where kids typically pick and scratch) and your doctor may want to prescribe an oral antibiotic to treat the infection. 

The best treatment is always prevention, so continue to use insect repellant appropriately, trim those fingernails, discourage scratching and picking and use an antibacterial soap for bathing. If you see an area looking like it is getting infected treat it early and you may be able to avoid taking an oral antibiotic.

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