Does Your Child Suffer From Eczema? Watch Out for Impetigo

If your child suffers from eczema, they may develop itchy, cracked, or inflamed skin. In the wintertime, eczema is especially common since the drier air can irritate the skin. If you notice that your child's eczema is open or infected, you should take him or her into an urgent care center to get treated.

If your child suffers from eczema, they may develop itchy, cracked, or inflamed skin. In the wintertime, eczema is especially common since the drier air can irritate the skin. If you notice that your child's eczema is open or infected, you should take him or her into an urgent care center to get treated.


Broken skin from eczema can leave your child at risk for impetigo. Learn more about the condition from this question and answer guide.


What Is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a very common but very contagious skin infection. This infection is caused by staph bacteria that can get into the body through broken skin. Even if your child only has eczema in one spot, like his or her hands, the impetigo bacteria can spread to the face, hands, legs, trunk, etc. Usually the first signs of the infection are clusters of red sores around the nose and lips.


What Do the Symptoms Look Like?

Impetigo causes red, itchy sores. When the sores break open, they can irritate the surrounding skin. When the sores heal, they may crust over with a brownish-yellow scab and then leave reddish spots behind. Some people develop bullous impetigo, a different strain of the staph bacteria that causes blisters — called bullae — that can develop in skin folds, like in the armpits or groin.


Impetigo can sometimes be confused with hand, foot, and mouth disease, but keep in mind that impetigo is strictly a skin condition. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is usually accompanied by fever, sore throat, and a loss of appetite.


What if Impetigo Isn't Treated Quickly?

While impetigo is very contagious, it's not a life-threatening condition. The problem with not treating the issue promptly is that it can develop into a more painful condition called ecthyma.


Ecthyma can go deeper into your child's skin and cause more painful sores and blisters. These blisters are slow-healing and can be filled with pus. While milder impetigo don't usually leave scars, people who develop ecthyma can have scars after the sores heal.


How Is Impetigo Treated?

Take your child to an urgent care center for treatment. A doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic ointment that can be applied directly to the sores. This type of medication will kill the bacteria and prevent it from spreading to others.


A doctor may also prescribe a soothing ointment so that your child won't be tempted to scratch the impetigo sores or re-open any eczema rashes.


If your child needs to go to school or plays on a sports team, he or she should have sores covered with bandages until the infection is no longer contagious. After about 24 hours with an antibacterial medication, your child should no longer be contagious even if the sores haven't completely healed over.


At home, you should wash towels, clothing, and bedding that your child has used so that the bacteria doesn't spread to other family members.


How Can You Prevent Future Problems?

To prevent more impetigo bacterial strains from recurring from broken skin, you should focus on your child's eczema. Although the drier winter weather cannot be helped, there are other triggers for eczema such as:

  • Allergens
  • Stress
  • Soaps that dry the skin too much

After your child's impetigo clears, ask your doctor to prescribe a soap that won't irritate or dry out your child's skin. If your child hasn't been tested for allergies, it may be worth it to see if the eczema flare-ups are linked to allergens, like certain fragrances, pet dander, dust, wool, etc.


Contact us at MyHealth Urgent Care for more information on treating your child's skin conditions. We can help you treat your child's impetigo and help you prevent your child's eczema from causing other secondary infections.

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