- What Are the Treatments for Impetigo?
- Natural Remedies for Impetigo You Can Do at Home
- 1. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)
- 2. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla/Chamaemelum nobile)
- 3. Garlic (Allium sativum)
- 4. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- 5. Grapefruit seed (Citrus x paradisi)
- 6. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
- 7. Neem (Azadiractha indica)
- 8. Honey
- 9. Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- 10. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
- 11. Usnea (Usnea barbata)
- What Is Impetigo?
- Signs And Symptoms
- What Causes Impetigo?
- Risk Factors
- 10 Natural Remedies To Treat Impetigo
- How To Prevent Impetigo
- 1. Tea Tree Oil:
- 2. Raw Honey (Preferably Manuka Honey):
- 3. Garlic:
- 4. Heat Therapy:
- 5. White Vinegar:
- 6. Olive Oil:
- 7. Coconut Oil:
- 8. Grapefruit Seed Extract:
- 9. Goldenseal Herbal Tea:
- 10. Aloe Vera Gel:
What Are the Treatments for Impetigo?
The key to treating — and preventing — impetigo is to practice good personal hygiene and maintain a clean environment. Once the infection occurs, prompt attention will keep it under control and prevent it from spreading.
Even if only one family member has impetigo, everyone in the household should follow the same sanitary regimen. Wash regularly with soap and water. This should help clear up mild forms of the infection. If this does not help, seek care from your doctor. You may need a prescription medication. Topical mupirocin ointment, available only by prescription, is highly successful in treating mild forms of the infection. Don’t try over-the-counter antibacterial ointments; they are too weak to kill strep and staph infections, and applying the ointment carelessly may actually spread the impetigo. If you have a more severe infection, you may need to take oral antibiotics.
For repeated impetigo outbreaks, topical antibacterial ointment is prescribed for inside the nose for everybody in the household to kill nasal bacterial. Bleach baths (1/4 cup bleach to half a tub of water), chlorhexadine, peroxide or hypochlorous acid washes help to reduce bacteria on the skin.
Anyone in a household who develops impetigo should use a clean towel with each washing. Be sure to launder those towels separately, using hot water and a hot dryer to kill the bacteria. Keep sores covered to prevent spread of the infection to other parts of the body or other people.
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What is impetigo?
Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the skin caused by two bacteria: group A streptococcus (strep) and staphylococcus aureus (staph). Although it can affect adults, impetigo most commonly appears in children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. The infection can spread quickly in crowded settings such as schools, daycare centers, and institutions such as nursing homes, prisons, or military installations. It occurs more often in the summer and early fall.
What are the symptoms of impetigo?
Impetigo usually starts with the appearance of red bumps on the face, particularly around the nose and mouth. Occasionally, it affects the legs, arms and trunk first. These bumps often fill with fluid and form tiny blisters which burst, ooze and coalesce into a thick honey- or brown-colored crust that firmly sticks to skin. Sores can be as small as a pimple or as large as a small coin. As blisters break and cluster together, this large crusty rash can expand, and can itch greatly.
People with impetigo usually do not have pain, fever or appear ill, although they can have swollen, tender lymph nodes near the site of the rash.
The biggest problem with impetigo is that scratching or touching infected skin can spread it to any area a person comes in contact with, including other individuals. Hands and fingernails are the most common source of spread.
In rare cases, the types of bacteria that cause impetigo can invade beyond the skin and cause more serious illness. This usually occurs in those whose immune systems are compromised. Streptococcal bacteria can cause “strep throat” and other serious complications such as heart valve and kidney disease or scarlet fever, characterized by high fever, chills, sore throat, headache, vomiting, and a fine “sandpaper” rash on the face, trunk and extremities. Staphylococcus aureus usually comes from the skin and noses of healthy people, and if confined to the skin is easily treated . Some strains of S. aureus, however, are highly resistant to antibiotic therapy. If not addressed properly, it can become more invasive and potentially cause life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis.
What are the causes of impetigo?
The two types of bacteria that cause impetigo are typically already on the skin surface and enter the body when skin is broken by injury or irritation. Impetigo can originate from other skin conditions, including acne or eczema, as well as poison ivy, insect bites, chickenpox and other viral rashes, or burns, cuts and scrapes. It can also come from direct physical contact with infected individuals. Children may get impetigo after having a cold or allergies that make the skin raw; however, it can also develop when skin is perfectly healthy. Staph infections are more commonly seen around the nose and on the trunk or arms, whereas strep is more frequently seen on the legs, pelvic area (especially when diapers are worn) and other skin areas that are warm and moist.
What is the conventional treatment of impetigo?
Antibiotics are the mainstay of conventional therapy. Topical anti-microbial ointments are often effective for staph impetigo, and treatments such as Bactroban (Mupirocin) ointment are commonly used. These can also work for strep impetigo, but failures and relapses seem to be more common. Bacteria can often hide under scabs and resist treatment until removed. Soaking in warm water with a liquid antibacterial soap usually works, but gentle rubbing is sometimes necessary. Oral antibiotics such as Keflex (Cephalexin) – or Bactrim (Septra) are used if there are concerns about methicillin-resistant-staph (MRSA). They can used be used in combination with topicals as a faster and more reliable therapy for stubborn cases, and are frequently recommended if the infection appears widespread or deep, or if topical ointments may be removed prematurely by infants who are prone to wipe or lick them off.
In April 2007, the FDA approved a new topical treatment for impetigo, called Altabax (retapamulin ointment) recommended for resistant cases in adults and children older than 9 months old.
What therapies does Dr. Weil recommend for impetigo?
1. Dietary changes:
- A diet rich in organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in animal-based proteins can fortify your body’s natural defenses and healing system.
- Eliminate polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils, and all foods (such as deep-fried foods) that might contain trans-fatty acids. Use extra-virgin olive oil as your principal fat.
- Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eat ginger and turmeric regularly for their anti-inflammatory effects.
Meditation, yoga or breath work can help counteract stress, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you to learn how to cope better with symptoms and stress.
3. Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Although not well studied with impetigo, TCM can be very effective at modulating the immune system, and may help keep recurrent infections in check.
- Take astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), the root of a plant native to northern China and Inner Mongolia known for its immune-boosting effects. You can buy astragalus preparations in most health food stores. The dose is two capsules or tablets twice a day unless the product directs otherwise. Liquid extracts and tinctures are available for those who cannot take pills. Follow directions on labels.
- You can also try adding raw garlic to the diet (one to two cloves a day, minced and mixed with food). Garlic is a powerful infection-fighter with natural antibiotic properties, although this might be tricky to administer to small infants and children.
- Remember to take a good probiotic supplement during and after any course of oral antibiotic therapy.
One of the main challenges with impetigo is preventing it from spreading. Children with runny noses need to have the area between the upper lip and nose kept clean as it is often colonized with staph and strep. When cuts and scrapes or other skin irritation occurs, wash the area with soapy water and consider applying antibacterial ointment. You can use Bacitracin or Neosporin. You might also try natural topicals such as tea tree or tamanu oil – available at most health food stores. They are easily absorbed, hard to remove and have excellent antibacterial properties. It is important to keep children’s fingernails clipped and clean, as well as working with them to not scratch. Avoid contact with other people or objects that might be infected. Typically, people on treatment are not contagious after 24-48 hours of therapy.
For stubborn infections that seem resistant to antibacterial therapy (particularly persistent ones can take as long as a year to clear up), you might try using medicinal honey instead. Researchers at the University of Waikato in New Zealand have found that honey’s antibacterial activity can even stop the growth of MRSA bacteria. They’ve also shown that honey has no adverse effects on healthy tissue and can be safely inserted into cavities and sinuses to clear infection. Don’t try this with ordinary supermarket honey, though, which might contain undesirable compounds. Two medicinal honeys available commercially include manuka honey from New Zealand and Medihoney from Australia.
Natural Remedies for Impetigo You Can Do at Home
Home remedies can help manage your symptoms and aid in the healing process. However, they should be used in addition to antibiotic treatment, not as a replacement.
Most of these home treatments come in the form of purchased products, supplements, or extracts. They aren’t reviewed or regulated by the FDA, which means you can’t know exactly what ingredients, or how much of them, each product contains. So make sure to obtain products only from reputable companies.
1. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)
This African lily plant is a common ingredient for moisturizing skin products. The benefits of aloe vera could also apply to skin infections such as impetigo.
A 2015 study tested aloe extract in a cream alongside neem oil. Results showed activity against Staphylococcus aureus as an antimicrobial when tested in a lab. This is a common bacteria strain that causes impetigo.
Aloe may also counter the dryness and itching of impetigo.
To use this remedy: Applying aloe gel directly from an aloe plant leaf to the skin works best. You can also try an ointment containing a high amount of aloe extract.
2. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla/Chamaemelum nobile)
Chamomile can be found in various skin products. It’s used to moisturize the skin and reduce inflammation. A 2011 review discussed its use against Staphylococcus, among other medicinal benefits.
A 2014 study showed that chamomile could directly fight skin infections on animals. However, currently there’s no scientific evidence that chamomile helps treat skin infections in humans.
To use this remedy: Make chamomile tea and use it as a skin wash. Or apply a used, cooled chamomile tea bag directly on sores.
3. Garlic (Allium sativum)
Garlic has historically been used to treat bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Garlic extracts may suppress both bacteria strains that cause impetigo. One 2011 study showed it had some effectiveness in the lab against Staphylococcus. Another study conducted that year mentioned its effectiveness for Streptococcus strains.
To use this remedy: Place the cut side of a slice of garlic directly on impetigo sores. This may sting a little. You can also press garlic cloves, and then apply topically. Garlic is also great to incorporate into your diet.
Avoid using garlic on young children, as it may cause skin irritation.
4. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is another root with a long history. It’s a seasoning that has health benefits.
Recently, studies have explored its antimicrobial properties. A 2012 study found that some of the components of ginger worked against Staphylococcus.
To use this remedy: Place a slice of ginger, cut side down, on impetigo sores. It might sting a little. You can also juice ginger root and make a poultice from the juice, applying it topically. Incorporating ginger into your diet is another option.
Avoid using ginger on young children, as it may cause skin irritation.
5. Grapefruit seed (Citrus x paradisi)
Grapefruit seed may help manage impetigo. A 2011 study of grapefruit peel extract showed it had antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus.
To use this remedy: Grapefruit seed is available in liquid extract or tincture form. Dilute it with water and then apply the mixture topically to impetigo sores — undiluted alcoholic extracts can cause burning sensations on open wounds.
6. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
Eucalyptus is another alternative herbal skin treatment. It’s available in essential oil form. A 2014 study on rats showed it had antimicrobial properties against Staphylococcus. A 2016 lab study found it had inhibitory bioactivity effects on Streptococcus pyogenes.
To use this remedy: Eucalyptus oil should only be used topically. This essential oil has been shown to be toxic, so ingesting it may be dangerous. To use, dilute a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil in water (two to three drops per ounce). Apply this mixture as a topical wash on impetigo sores.
Topical use of properly diluted eucalyptus essential oil is generally safe. Some incidences of contact dermatitis have been reported, but they are rare.
Avoid using eucalyptus oil on very young children, as it may cause dermatitis or skin irritation.
7. Neem (Azadiractha indica)
Neem is an Indian tree closely related to mahogany. Oil extracted from its bark is a popular alternative skin remedy.
Neem is usually used for insect-related skin conditions like those that can result from lice or flea infestation. It also appears to be effective against certain bacteria, including strains that cause impetigo.
One 2011 study showed it had activity against Staphylococcus bacteria. A 2013 study showed similar results against the two strains of bacteria that cause impetigo.
To use this remedy: Follow the label directions provided with a neem oil product.
A delectable sweet, honey has long been used for medicinal purposes. For example, it has traditionally served as an antibacterial. Today, there is scientific support for this health benefit.
A 2016 study noted honey’s antimicrobial activity, so it’s possible that honey might be an antimicrobial for skin conditions, including impetigo. However, this hasn’t been demonstrated in human studies.
Another 2012 lab study showed it combated Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria quite well.
To use this remedy: Manuka honey and raw honey are two of the most effective choices. Apply either type of honey directly to impetigo sores, and let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
9. Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Today, tea tree is one of the most widely used alternative natural skin treatments.
This includes effectiveness in treating impetigo. In fact, impetigo was named one of many bacterial skin conditions it has been proposed to treat in a major 2017 dissertation review.
To use this remedy: Tea tree is widely available as an essential oil. Dilute a few drops in water (two to three drops per ounce), and apply the solution as a topical wash on impetigo sores.
Avoid using tea tree oil on young children, as it may cause dermatitis or skin irritation.
10. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric is best known as an Asian herbal spice. It also has a history as an anti-inflammatory remedy. Additionally, turmeric boasts antimicrobial properties, even against bacteria that cause impetigo.
One 2016 study found that turmeric could fight Staphylococcus and Streptococcus better than certain herbs.
To use this remedy: Try applying a turmeric poultice directly to impetigo sores. You can do this by mixing water with turmeric powder to make a paste.
11. Usnea (Usnea barbata)
Though less well-known, usnea — a type of lichen — can be topically used for impetigo. Herbal extracts or tinctures of usnea are widely available.
Studies published in 2012 and 2013 discussed usnea’s potency against Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.
To use this remedy: Mix a few drops of usnea extract or tincture with water and apply it topically on impetigo sores. Undiluted extracts may be painful for open wounds.
10 Natural Remedies To Get Rid Of Impetigo + Causes And Symptoms Shaheen Naser Hyderabd040-395603080 May 15, 2019
Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that accounts for around 10% of skin complaints in the pediatric population (1). As it is a highly contagious infection, impetigo can quickly spread from one person to another, especially in children.
Did you find small angry-looking rashes all over your little one’s torso? Or do you have red sores around your nose and mouth? Irrespective of what may have triggered this stubborn infection, you need to start looking for treatment options right away before the sores leave behind scars. In this post, we will discuss the best home remedies that can help in soothing impetigo sores and speed up healing. Read on.
Table Of Contents
What Is Impetigo?
Impetigo is a skin infection that is highly contagious and very common. It is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Impetigo usually affects infants and children and occurs in the form of red sores. These sores can burst and form honey-colored crusts.
The classic signs and symptoms associated with impetigo are discussed below.
Signs And Symptoms
The common symptoms of impetigo are red sores that rupture, ooze, and finally dry to form a yellowish-brown crust. The size of these sores may range from a dime to a quarter. Such sores usually appear on the face, around the nose and mouth, and on the hands and feet of the infected person.
Bullous impetigo is a lesser known form of impetigo. It is characterized by larger blisters and occurs on the trunk of the affected child.
Ecthyma is another severe type of impetigo, which penetrates deeper into the skin. It causes painful pus- or fluid-filled sores, which develop into deeper ulcers. These sores are much darker and thicker than ordinary impetigo.
Let us now look at the leading triggers of this contagious infection.
What Causes Impetigo?
Impetigo is a bacterial infection triggered by Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) or Streptococcus pyogenes (S. pyogenes). S. aureus is present on the skin while S. pyogenes is present in the mouth flora. These bacteria cause infections when there is a cut or wound.
The infection usually begins in two ways:
- Primary Impetigo – The bacteria initiate an infection on healthy skin without an entry site.
- Secondary Impetigo – The bacteria invade the skin due to another skin condition that has disrupted the skin’s barrier (e.g., scabies or eczema).
Adults usually develop impetigo due to a skin injury from another skin condition like dermatitis, which causes inflammation of the skin.
Children, on the other hand, are infected following a cut, scrape, or insect bite. They can also be infected without any damage to the skin when they are exposed to the infection directly or indirectly.
Factors that can increase the risk of developing impetigo are discussed right below.
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing impetigo. They are:
- Age – It is common in children aged between 2 and 5.
- Crowded Environment – Impetigo can easily be contracted in crowded settings like child care or school.
- Warm and humid weather
- Sports, such as football or wrestling, which may involve direct contact with an infected person or utensil
- Injured skin
- Close dealing with an infected person
- Sharing utensils with an infected person
Although impetigo is highly contagious, it can be cleared rather easily. Your doctor may prescribe topical and/or oral antibiotics to deal with the infection.
However, if you are looking for natural alternatives to manage impetigo and speed up recovery, we have your back. Discussed below are the best home remedies that can help in the treatment of this skin infection.
10 Natural Remedies To Treat Impetigo
1. Essential Oils
(i) Tea Tree Oil
You Will Need
- 3-4 drops of tea tree oil
- 1 cup of water
- Cotton pads or balls
What You Have To Do
- Add three to four drops of tea tree oil to a cup of water.
- Mix well and dip a cotton ball into the solution.
- Gently swipe the infected area with the soaked cotton.
- Discard the used cotton.
How Often You Should Do This
You may do this 1-2 times daily.
Why This Works
Tea tree oil is antibacterial and can help in fighting staphylococci infections. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also help to alleviate itching and heal the sores (2).
(ii) Oregano Oil
You Will Ne ed
- 3-4 drops of oregano oil
- 1 cup of water
- Cotton balls
- Add three to four drops of oregano oil to a cup of water.
- Mix well and soak a cotton ball in it.
- Apply the solution gently to the affected skin.
- Discard the used cotton.
- Leave it on until it dries.
You can do this 1-2 times daily.
The antibacterial activities of oregano oil can weaken the biofilm formation of Staphylococcus bacteria, thereby helping in the treatment of impetigo (3).
Caution: Do not use essential oils topically on children as it may lead to skin irritations like dermatitis.
2-3 sliced garlic cloves
- Peel the garlic cloves.
- Chop the cloves into small pieces and place them on the sores.
- Take them off after 20-30 minutes and rinse with water.
- You can also add garlic to your diet for additional health benefits.
You can do this once daily.
Garlic has antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory properties (4). These properties can help in treating impetigo and accelerating recovery.
3. Coconut Oil
- 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed coconut oil
- Cotton swabs
- Take a tablespoon of coconut oil in a small bowl.
- Dip a cotton swab in it and apply it to the affected skin.
- Discard the used swab.
- Leave the oil on for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Rinse it off with water.
You can do this once daily.
Coconut oil possesses both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can help in reducing the inflammation and pain in the affected areas (6).
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- 1 cup of water
- Cotton balls
- Add a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to a cup of water.
- Mix well and dip a cotton ball in the solution.
- Gently apply the mixture to the affected skin.
- Discard the used cotton.
- Leave the ACV on for 20-30 minutes and rinse it off.
- Additionally, you can also mix a tablespoon of ACV in a glass of water and drink it daily.
You may do this once daily.
Apple cider vinegar possesses antibacterial potential against S. aureus. It can help reduce the severity of impetigo symptoms when applied topically and speeds up the healing of the infection when consumed (7).
Caution: Do not give unpasteurized ACV to children as it may lead to food poisoning.
- 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric
- Water (as required)
- Mix one to two teaspoons of turmeric powder with water to form a thick paste.
- Apply the turmeric paste to the affected skin.
- Leave it on for 20-30 minutes or until the mixture dries.
- Rinse the paste off your skin using lukewarm water.
- Discard the remaining mixture.
You may do this once daily.
Curcumin is the main component of turmeric. The antibacterial nature of curcumin is effective against S. aureus (8). The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin have been used to treat many skin disorders (9). Hence, turmeric may be beneficial in treating impetigo and its symptoms.
6. Grapefruit Seed Extract
- 2-3 drops of grapefruit seed oil
- 2 tablespoons of water
- Cotton swabs
- Add two to three drops of grapefruit seed extract to two tablespoons of water.
- Mix well and dip a cotton swab in it.
- Apply the mixture to the affected skin.
- Leave it on for 20-30 minutes and rinse it off with water.
- Discard the used swabs.
- You can also take grapefruit seed extract supplements after consulting your doctor.
You can do this 2-3 times daily for faster results.
Grapefruit seed extract is a powerful antibacterial agent that is effective against S. aureus – one of the two bacteria known to cause impetigo (10). It may thus be effective in treating the infection as well as its symptoms.
Caution: Grapefruit seed supplement should not be taken internally by children.
- 1-2 teaspoons of goldenseal powder
- Water (as required)
- Mix one to two teaspoons of goldenseal powder with water to form a thick paste.
- Apply the goldenseal paste to the affected skin.
- Leave it on until it dries completely.
- Rinse it off using water.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with the infected skin.
- You can also take goldenseal supplements after consulting your doctor.
You may do this once daily.
Goldenseal exhibits potent antibacterial activity against S. aureus (11). Hence, it may also be used to speed up the healing of impetigo and its symptoms.
- 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey
- Cotton swabs
- Take a little raw honey on a cotton swab.
- Apply it directly to the impetigo sores.
- Discard the swab.
- Allow the honey to sit on your skin for 20-30 minutes.
- Rinse it off with lukewarm water.
You can do this 1-2 times daily.
Honey is antibacterial and can help treat S. aureus infection on wounds (12). This suggests that honey may help in the treatment of impetigo symptoms.
9. Aloe Vera
- Freshly extracted aloe gel
- Cotton swabs
- Extract the gel from an aloe leaf and blend it well with a fork.
- Take a little aloe gel on a cotton swab.
- Apply it to the infected skin.
- Leave it on for 20-30 minutes and rinse it off.
- Discard the used swabs.
You can do this 2-3 times daily.
The wound-healing and anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera could help in quickening the healing of impetigo sores (13), (14).
- A handful of neem leaves
- Water (as required)
- Take a handful of neem leaves and wash them thoroughly.
- Blend the leaves with some water to form a thick paste.
- Apply the paste to the infected skin.
- Leave it on for 20-30 minutes or until it dries completely.
- Rinse it off your skin.
You can do this once daily.
Neem can help in the inhibition of S. aureus biofilm formation (15). Hence, it can be an excellent remedy to get rid of the infectious impetigo sores.
These remedies can do a great job in speeding up recovery from impetigo. However, some people may have recurring bouts of the infection. Hence, you need to take great care and make a few lifestyle changes to prevent this from happening. The following are some tips that can help prevent the recurrence of impetigo.
How To Prevent Impetigo
- Shower daily.
- Wash the infected skin daily using a mild cleanser and water.
- Do not touch the infected sores.
- Wash the clothing and other utensils of an infected person separately.
- Use gloves while applying a topical antibiotic.
- Keep skin injuries clean and covered.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Keep your nails short.
- Keep the patient isolated until recovery.
These tips can help in preventing the recurrence of the infection. It can also prevent healthy individuals from developing impetigo.
While impetigo is highly contagious, it is not of much concern as its symptoms will begin subsiding in a couple of weeks. But treatment is necessary to avoid further complications from the infection. For a speedy recovery from impetigo, combine the above tips and remedies with medical treatment.
We hope this post addressed all your queries regarding impetigo. For any more doubts, feel free to get in touch with us through the comments box below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Is there a cure for impetigo?
An impetigo infection can be cured using topical/oral antibiotics. The remedies mentioned above can also help in the treatment.
Will neosporin help impetigo?
Neosporin is a non-prescription topical antibiotic that is generally not effective against impetigo.
Is impetigo contagious?
Yes, impetigo is extremely contagious and can spread easily via contact with infected skin or utensils.
What is the difference between infantigo and impetigo?
There is no difference between infantigo or impetigo. They are different terms used for the same infection. Impetigo is often misheard/mispronounced as infantigo.
How does impetigo spread?
As it is a contagious infection, impetigo can easily spread by skin-to-skin contact or contact with infected utensils.
When to seek medical help for impetigo?
You may seek medical help for impetigo if you notice any of its symptoms or develop other symptoms like fever. You should also see a doctor if the skin around the impetigo sore becomes swollen, red, tender, or painful to touch.
- “Impetigo” StatPearls, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties” Clinical Microbiology Reviews, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Effects of oregano, carvacrol and thymol on Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms.” Journal of Medical Microbiology, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Antibacterial activity of garlic extract on streptomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli solely and in synergism with streptomycin” Journal Of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds” Journal Of Immunology, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil.” Pharmaceutical Biology, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression” Scientific Reports, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Antibacterial Action of Curcumin against Staphylococcus aureus: A Brief Review” Journal Of Tropical Medicine, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Evidence of curcumin and curcumin analogue effects in skin diseases: A narrative review.” Journal of Cellular Physiology, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Bactericidal effect of grape seed extract on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).” Journal of Toxicological Sciences, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Quorum Quenching and Antimicrobial Activity of Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) against Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)” Planta medica, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Antibacterial activity of honey against strains of Staphylococcus aureus from infected wounds.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Topical Application of Aloe vera Accelerated Wound Healing, Modeling, and Remodeling: An Experimental Study.” Annals of Plastic Surgery. US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Antiinflammatory activity of extracts from Aloe vera gel.” Journal Of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library Of Medicine.
- “Effect of neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss) leaf extract on resistant Staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation and Schistosoma mansoni worms.” Journal Of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library Of Medicine.
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Shaheen holds a postgraduate degree in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology. She is a Geneticist with proficiency in Biotechnology, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Genetic Counseling. Her passion for writing and her educational background have assisted her substantially in writing quality content on topics related to health and wellness. In her free time, Shaheen loves to explore the world and the different flavors/cuisines it has to offer. Photography is another hobby she has developed of late.
Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that most commonly affects infants and young children. Adolescents and adults with a weakened immune system are also susceptible. The hallmark of the most common impetigo diagnosis is blisters with a honey-colored crust that typically starts around the mouth and nose. It eventually spreads to hands, feet and the trunk. (1) Treatments for impetigo are available to relieve the itching and discomfort associated with this acute skin infection.
Impetigo is classified by the CDC in the “non-invasive group A strep illness” category, like strep throat. It’s a common skin condition identified with blisters filled with fluid. In Europe, 2 out of every 100 children are treated each year. (2) The World Health Organization estimates that 111 million children living in developing countries have impetigo; (3) the CDC does not currently track the number of cases in the United States.
There are three main types of impetigo: Non-Bullous Impetigo, Bullous Impetigo, and the most serious condition, Ecthyma.
Non-Bullous Impetigo is the most common. It’s casually referred to as the “crusted impetigo.” It typically starts on the face in clusters of tiny red blisters. As they begin to burst, the skin weeps a fluid that develops into a gold-colored crust.
Bullous Impetigo is less common. The first skin lesions typically appear on the neck, trunk or in the diaper region. Unlike the small non-bullous impetigo blisters, bullous impetigo blisters are much larger. Bullous impetigo blisters are filled with a clear liquid that turns cloudy before erupting.
Ecthyma is a significantly more serious condition. The blisters become painful and pus-filled leading to the development of deep ulcers. Like the non-bullous type, a crust does form over the blister and the ulcer, presenting a risk for scarring.
Signs & Symptoms
The first sign of non-bullous impetigo in children is often tiny red blister clusters that appear around the nose and mouth. At the onset, the blisters start out about the size of a small pimple. As impetigo continues to spread, the blisters can grow more to than the size of a nickel. While typically not painful, a common impetigo symptom is itching. Itching is the primary reason for its rapid spread. In non-bullous impetigo and ecthyma, individuals may experience swollen lymph nodes as the infection progresses.
Ecthyma begins as non-bullous impetigo. It evolves into necrotic ulcers that are slow to heal. This is most common in individuals with a compromised immune system. These individuals include those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, HIV and others whose bodies have a difficult time fighting bacteria.
Bullous impetigo’s larger blisters are often the first sign of this skin infection. The weeping does not typically occur and the blisters can heal without scarring. (4) In Bullous impetigo, an outbreak is severe when multiple areas of the body have lesions, and additional symptoms of weakness, fever and diarrhea are present.
While rare, individuals with any of the three types of impetigo can experience a low-grade fever, nausea and general malaise as the body fights the bacteria.
Causes & Risk Factors
Either streptococcus or staphylococcus aureus causes impetigo. These bacteria enter into the body through an open wound, burn, insect bite or even just raw, irritated skin. (5) This is why impetigo is so often seen around the nose and mouth of young children after a cold, or during allergy season.
As mentioned above, individuals with a weakened or compromised immune system are at a greater risk of developing impetigo than those with strong immune systems. In order to effectively guard against an impetigo outbreak, it is vital to keep wounds clean and covered. It’s also important to wash hands frequently to prevent unhealthy bacteria from entering the body.
Impetigo most often occurs in children from 2 to 5 years old. Because impetigo is highly contagious, it spreads rapidly through day care centers and schools. A risk factor for older children and teens is participating in contact sports like wrestling, football and cheerleading. Regardless of age, if an outbreak is suspected, the child should remain home until the blisters are no longer weeping.
Adults with diabetes or poor immune system function are more likely to develop the more serious infection, ecthyma. Ecthyma can lead to potentially dangerous complications like cellulitis, meningitis and kidney inflammation.(6) It is imperative that all open wounds and irritated patches of skin be kept clean and protected.
In addition, both children and adults with cold sores, chickenpox or eczema are at a higher risk for developing impetigo. (7) Use good hygiene practices to keep the bacteria that causes impetigo at bay.
After a physician diagnoses impetigo, they may prescribe a topical antibiotic ointment or cream. Over-the-counter antibiotic creams are typically not advised. Depending on severity, an oral antibiotic may also be prescribed, particularly in cases of ecthyma or large scale outbreaks. (8)
9 Natural Impetigo Treatments
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract is known for fighting candida and fungal infections. An additional grapefruit seed extract benefit is its ability to fight staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, one of the bacteria that causes impetigo. A 2004 study from the Department of Biological Sciences at the Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, UK, found a combination of grapefruit seed extract and geranium oil showed the “greatest anti-bacterial effects against MRSA.” (9)
Long used in Ayurvedic practice to fight bacteria, boost immune system function and reduce inflammation, ginger can help to speed healing during an impetigo infection. Incorporate ginger into your diet by adding to smoothies and salad dressings or drinking a kid-friendly orange carrot ginger juice.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Well-known for its ability to detoxify the body, balance blood sugar, and as a treatment for acid reflux, skin care is another effective apple cider vinegar use. During an impetigo outbreak, dab pure apple cider vinegar on blisters and lesions to fight the bacteria and ease the inflammation.
A recent study published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine states that curcumin demonstrates powerful antibacterial activity against staphylococcus aureus. Researchers agree that further investigation is necessary to fully understand the action of curcumin, and how best to harness it. (10)
While researchers continue to look at the scope of turmeric’s benefits and antibacterial powers, it can be used to reduce the inflammation of the lesions and associated itching and general discomfort. Mix 1 teaspoon ground turmeric with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and dab onto affected areas. Cover with a non-stick bandage as turmeric will stain clothing. Rinse daily and reapply until healed.
- Coconut Oil
When applied topically, the lauric acid in coconut oil makes the skin inhospitable to certain pathogens, including bacteria. In essence, when used as a lotion, it creates an invisible barrier that can ward off bacteria, viruses and fungi. Coconut oil aids in the detoxification of the body. Coconut oil lotion creates a protective barrier on the skin to protect against antibacterial compounds and antiviral compounds. Combine with tea tree oil for effective topical treatment.
Internally, coconut oil boosts immune system response, fights inflammation, balances hormones and so much more. During an infection like contagious impetigo, find more ways to incorporate coconut oil into your diet. Add it to smoothies, use it instead of butter on toast and popcorn, or make up a batch of granola that the kids will love.
- Manuka Honey
Long prized as a potent antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, Manuka honey also has high antimicrobial activity. The many health benefits of Manuka honey can be helpful during an outbreak of impetigo to speed healing in children or adults.
Researchers at The University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, found that when cells with MRSA were exposed to Manuka honey, cell division was interrupted. This led researchers to believe that overall growth of MRSA was slowed down. (11) This supports the use of Manuka honey on cuts and infections to fight a wide range of viruses, fungi and bacteria.
Researchers from The University of North Carolina’s Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry found that the use of Goldenseal (H. canadensis leaf extract) to treat skin infections is warranted. (12) Of particular note in this study, it appears that H. canadensis acts against MRSA, one of the bacteria that causes impetigo.
While fighting an infection such as impetigo, goldenseal’s health benefits can provide a powerful one-two punch. Internally, it helps to boost immune system response. Externally, it can fight bacteria that causes infections. For external use, make a strong tea solution and, when cool, dab over the lesions as you would a facial toner to help remove the crust caused by the weeping of the blisters.
- Green Tea
Long heralded for its healing and health benefits, researchers have found green tea can inhibit and kill a wide range of bacteria. In theory, using green tea topically could help prevent the spread across the body, as well as to other non-infected individuals. In addition to using it externally, boosting the immune system with my comforting Green Tea Chicken Soup Recipe is a great way to get the most out of this healing tea throughout a bacterial infection.
- Tea Tree Oil
Used for hundreds of years in traditional medicine, tea tree oil benefits and uses are widely accepted. It has been proven effective for treating acne, eczema, psoriasis, ringworm and for skin infections.
In a small study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, researchers found that 5% tea tree oil extract was as effective as prescription antibiotic treatments in treating MRSA and streptococcus. (13) Study participants treated affected areas 3-4 times per day throughout the trial.
3 Tips to Prevent Impetigo
While impetigo is incredibly contagious and common, there are a few things you can do to prevent infection.
Practice good hygiene.
Teaching young children how to properly wash their hands can help prevent a wide variety of illnesses, from the common cold to impetigo. Use a natural antibacterial hand soap, several times a day. Combine ½ cup Castile soap, ½ cup distilled water, 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, 10 drops peppermint oil and 30 drops of tea tree oil in a dispenser. Shake well, and use as normal soap.
Keep fingernails short.
Bacteria, dirt, viruses and even fungi thrive underneath fingernails. While washing hands often helps, it is important for small children to keep nails short to prevent spreading during an outbreak of impetigo or other contagious skin conditions.
Eat to boost immune system response.
Follow a balanced eating plan that features plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Designed to decrease inflammation, eliminate toxins, and optimize nutrients, it is a great way to fight disease and infection before onset.
After impetigo treatment has begun, it is still imperative that the infected individual limit contact until the lesions and blisters are no longer spreading, and weeping fluids. The bacteria that cause impetigo spread easily through incidental contact, including on bedding, towels and clothing.
Monitor impetigo in adults and children closely. Many find that taking daily photos of the affected areas can help you track the spread and healing rate. If the infected individual has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes or otherwise has a compromised immune system, examine all of the affected areas daily for any changes that indicate the treatment is not working.
- Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection caused by either streptococcus or staphylococcus aureus bacteria. It most commonly affects infants and young children. Adults and adolescents can also get it.
- There are three main types of impetigo: Non-Bullous, Bullous and, the most serious condition, Ecthyma.
- Impetigo causes clusters of red, itchy blisters that may weep and that spread quickly. Depending on the type, the blisters may be larger, lymph nodes may swell and other symptoms may occur, including fever and diarrhea. Ecthyma may lead to severe complications, including cellulitis, meningitis and kidney infection.
- A conventional doctor will prescribe a topical antibiotic ointment or cream for impetigo. Depending on severity, an oral antibiotic may also be prescribed
- There are several natural treatments, including: grapefruit seed extract, ginger, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, tea tree oil, green tea, coconut oil, Manuka honey and Goldenseal.
- Take steps to prevent impetigo by practicing good hygiene, keeping finger nails short, and eating a diet that boosts the immune system.
Read Next: How to Boost Your Immune System — Top 10 Boosters
Impetigo is a contagious skin condition that leads to the formation of sores and blisters on the skin. This skin infection is pretty common in small children, but also affects adults. Additionally, it rarely poses a risk for affected persons.The infection usually occurs on the face, arms, neck region and legs. The bacteria responsible for this infection are the staphylococcus aureus and the streptococcus pyogenes.
The bacteria access the skin wherever the skin is punctured usually through injuries, bites or cuts. In some instances, the infection sets in as a result of pre-exisiting skin conditions such as eczema.Some of the risk factors of this condition include poor hygiene, skin infections, a weakened immune system as well as extremely warm weather. Some of the symptoms of impetigo include red sores on the skin, a crust-like layer that forms when the small swellings pop as well as blisters.
This is often accompanied by itchiness and rash formation. For most people, the condition improves on its own after a couple of weeks. Treatment is largely dependent on the severity of the condition. Mild cases respond well to proper hygiene and a number of home remedies. If the infection is severe, however, it is important to get immediate medical intervention to contain the spread of the infection. This also helps provide much-needed relief from the symptoms of impetigo.
1. Tea Tree Oil:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 3 Drops of tea tree oil, 1 tablespoon of olive oil (carrier oil), cotton wool and warm water.
Tea tree oil is a must-have for anyone who needs a quick and effective home remedy for the natural treatment of impetigo. This essential oil is a popular choice because of its potent antibacterial properties that kill the causative bacteria. This not only prevents the spread of the infection, it also provides relief from the itchiness and inflammation on the affected skin.
Add olive oil prior to the application of this remedy to prevent further irritation as tea tree oil is a strong remedy. Below are the simple directions you need to follow to get the best of this oil’s healing properties. Note that tea tree oil MUST never be used internally as it is extremely toxic to the body’s internal organs.
- Place a few drops of the tea tree oil in a shallow container and add the olive oil.
- Mix the two and then soak the cotton wool in the oil mixture.
- Apply the oil on the affected skin and leave on for 20 minutes.
- Rinse with warm water.
- Repeat thrice daily until the infection clears.
2. Raw Honey (Preferably Manuka Honey):
Time Required: 30 Min – 2 Hrs
What You Need: Raw organic honey and warm water .
Get honey’s remarkable healing properties when you need a natural remedy for the treatment of impetigo. Honey is packed with antibacterial properties that come in handy in the management of the condition. The honey not only kills the bacteria, it also improves the health of the skin, which in turn speeds up the process of healing. Manuka honey, a product from New Zealand, is preferred because of its potent healing properties. The application process is rather simple, and will only take 20 minutes of your time per session.
- Apply a thick layer of the honey on the affected skin.
- Leave the honey to dry on its own for at least 20 minutes (but for as long as 2 hours if you have the time).
- When the time elapses, simply rinse the skin using warm water. Use this remedy as often as you need to.
- You may also add the honey to your daily diet to strengthen your immune system.
Time Required: 45 Min
What You Need: 3 Cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, strainer and cotton wool.
Experience the healing goodness of garlic when used for the natural treatment of impetigo. Garlic is packed with sulfur-based compounds that are integral in eliminating the bacterial populations responsible for the infection. Regular use over a period of time reduces the spread of the infection while lessening the severity of the bacterial infection. Sesame oil is added because it compliments the garlic’s healing properties. Prepare the garlic as follows.
- Peel and chop the garlic into small pieces before frying in the sesame oil.
- Fry for a few minutes before turning off the heat and allowing the remedy to cool down.
- Pass the mixture through a strainer in order to discard the used garlic pieces.
- Apply the oil mixture on the affected skin and leave on for half an hour.
- Use this remedy thrice daily for best results.
NB: It helps to prepare the remedy in bulk so as to save on time and ease the application process, but make sure you refrigerate the mixture.
4. Heat Therapy:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Clean washcloth and hot water. Blow dryer (optional).
Heat therapy is one of the most effective home solutions for the natural treatment of impetigo. This is because the heat present destroys the structure of the bacteria, thus controlling the spread of the infection. In addition to this, the heat helps dry up the sores that develop as a result of the skin infection. Regular use of this remedy is a great cure for impetigo. All you need for this remedy is a clean washcloth and hot water. Take care not to scald yourself with the hot water. For this reason, avoid this remedy for very small babies.
- Place the clean washcloth in the hot water and soak for a few minutes.
- Squeeze the excess water and proceed to place the cloth on the affected area.
- Pat the hot cloth on the affected skin for a few minutes at a time until the cloth becomes cold.
- Repeat this procedure thrice daily until the impetigo clears.
- In the absence of this form of therapy, you may use a blow dryer (with minimal settings) for the same effect.
5. White Vinegar:
Time Required: 45 Min
What You Need: 2 Teaspoons of white vinegar, 2 cups of warm water, cotton ball, skin antibiotic cream and gauze.
When it comes to treating sores on the skin, one of the best home remedies to use is white vinegar. Impetigo causes fluid-filled blisters and sores to develop on the skin. When white vinegar is used on the skin, it cleans the affected skin and destroys the bacteria that causes the infection. The directions below constitute simple steps to preparing your own home-made antibiotic solution for the natural treatment of impetigo.
- Dilute the white vinegar using warm water and mix well.
- Soak the cotton ball in the dilute white vinegar solution for a few minutes and then pat the wet wool on the affected skin.
- Let the remedy air-dry before applying the antibiotic skin cream.
- Cover the affected skin with gauze or a bandage.
- Use this remedy thrice daily until the infection clears. Remember not to scrub the skin when rinsing to avoid further skin irritation and likely bursting of the blisters.
6. Olive Oil:
Time Required: 15 Min
What You Need: Virgin olive oil, dropper and cotton wool.
Harness the therapeutic healing properties of olive oil whenever you need to treat impetigo. Olive oil is not only an excellent skin moisturizer, it also has active ingredients that help destroy the bacterial populations responsible for the infection. These compounds are known as oeuropein and rutin, both of which are effective against the two bacterial species. For speedy recovery, use the olive oil on the affected skin at least five times daily. Virgin olive oil is preferred because it has more potent healing properties.
- Place 5 drops of the virgin olive oil on the cotton wool and apply on the affected skin.
- Make sure that the olive oil soaks into the sores and blisters to clear the infection quickly.
7. Coconut Oil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Pure coconut oil and cotton wool.
The wondrous benefits of coconut oil are not just restricted to healthy glowing skin; they also come in handy for the natural treatment of impetigo. Coconut oil is rich in natural fatty acids that create a toxic environment for the infection-causing bacteria. This in turn, destroys the bacteria responsible for impetigo, and improves the healing process. As with most of the remedies listed above, regular consistent use is key to get rid of the infection.
- To get relief from impetigo, simply soak the cotton wool in the coconut oil.
- Dab the wet wool on the affected skin, making sure you focus on the sores and blisters.
- You may allow the oil to dry on the skin without rinsing as the oil’s moisturizing properties make it an ideal remedy.
8. Grapefruit Seed Extract:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 3 drops of Grapefruit seed extract, some warm water and cotton wool.
Grapefruit seed extract (abbreviated GSE) is an effective solution for the natural treatment of impetigo. Rich in antioxidant properties, the use of this extract ensures that the bacteria responsible for the infection do not survive. The extract is also a potent antibacterial that helps restrict the spread of the infection across the skin. If you are looking for a gentle skin cleanser and disinfectant, look no further than GSE. In the absence of the extract, you can always use GSE supplements for the same effects. Use this remedy as outlined in the steps below.
- Dilute the GSE by mixing with water well.
- Soak the cotton ball in the dilute GSE solution for a few minutes and then apply on the affected skin.
- This may cause a tingling sensation, but it passes after a short while. Most of all, it helps cure the infection after a few days.
- You may add GSE supplements to your diet, but make sure you seek your doctor’s advice prior to this.
9. Goldenseal Herbal Tea:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: 1 Teaspoon of goldenseal powder, 1 cup of hot water and a strainer.
Goldenseal herb is an excellent remedy for the treatment of impetigo, thanks to its antibacterial properties. The herb effectively disinfects the sores and helps clear the blisters. The herb has also been shown to strengthen the immune system, making it an ideal home remedy. Other options available for the use of this remedy include the use of goldenseal cream or herbal supplements.
- Prepare the tea by placing a teaspoon of the powder in the water and steeping for 15 minutes.
- Strain the mixture and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Rinse the affected skin using the warm tea twice daily until the infection is cleared.
- Alternatively, apply the cream on the affected skin or take the herbal supplements following your doctor’s directives.
10. Aloe Vera Gel:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Fresh aloe vera leaf and warm water.
It is impossible to list home remedies for impetigo treatment without making mention of aloe vera gel. The gel, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, is an excellent way to treat this skin infection. Additionally, the presence of antioxidants in the gel helps repair the skin as healing progresses. Use a freshly cut aloe vera leaf for this purpose.
- Slice the aloe vera leaf to expose the oozing side and release the gel.
- Rub the gel on the sores and blisters as gently as you can.
- Let the gel dry before rinsing with warm water.
- Use aloe vera gel twice daily and monitor the progress of your skin.
Other home remedies that you can use to treat impetigo include colloidal silver and calendula which both help eliminate the bacterial infection. It also helps to eat a healthy diet as this improves the immune system and helps the body recover faster. Proper hygiene is imperative as this helps prevent the bacteria from proliferating on the skin, and reduces the risk of infections arising from cuts and injurie