Impetigo contagiosa (bark ringworm) in children

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin disease characterized by itchy blisters. Kindergarten or school children are often affected by impetigo, but other age groups can also be easily infected. Here you can find out more about impetigo, how it is treated and what you can do yourself to help your child.

Impetigo contagiosa, also known as pus or bark lichen, is one of the most common skin diseases in children . The disease is triggered by bacterial pathogens – streptococci or staphylococci – which are transmitted through smear infection, i.e. through direct skin contact or even used objects. Impetigo contagiosa is highly contagious and spreads particularly easily among kindergarten and school children, but in principle all age groups can contract the disease. Impetigo mainly affects the face, arms and legs.

Signs of impetigo contagiosa in your child

  • When impetigo contagiosa is caused by streptococci, small blisters filled with fluid or pus usually form and burst easily.
  • In staph-induced impetigo, the blisters are larger and more stable, but they can still rupture and ooze.
  • Whitish or honey-yellow scabs form on the open spots.
  • Severe itching is also typical.
  • In rare cases, fever and swollen lymph nodes can also occur.

How does an illness with impetigo contagiosa progress?

Initially, only a slight reddening of the skin indicates impetigo. The blisters typical of the disease only appear about two to ten days after infection. The mouth, nose, arms and hands are usually affected initially, but impetigo can also spread to other parts of the body. Apart from the annoying itching, the little patients usually have no symptoms. In rare cases and in an advanced stage of the disease, inflammation of the lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels or certain areas of the kidney can occur.

Bacterial growth is favored by heat and moisture, which is why impetigo occurs more frequently in spring and summer. In the case of a previous illness, such as neurodermatitis , bacteria have a particularly easy time. It is important that you have the disease examined and treated by a pediatrician, because unfortunately impetigo cannot simply be sat out.

Treatment of impetigo contagiosa

The pediatrician first tests which bacterial strain triggers the impetigo. Based on this, antibiotic therapy is prescribed. Sometimes it is enough to regularly apply antibiotic ointment to the affected areas, but in order to successfully fight the bacteria, antibiotics are usually also prescribed to be taken by mouth. The symptoms should subside after a short time. Nevertheless, you should adhere to the antibiotic therapy for the entire prescribed period. Because if streptococci or staphylococci are not thoroughly killed, there is a risk of reinfection.

What can you do about impetigo contagiosa?

  • It is important to keep the affected skin clean. Always use a fresh hand towel or paper towel to remove scabs and apply ointment.
  • The strong itching in particular causes problems for your child. Be careful not to scratch it and make the disease worse. Trim their fingernails short and try to distract them with games or other fun activities.
  • Light and airy clothing, for example made of cotton, helps to curb bacterial growth and the sensitive skin areas can heal better.
  • All family members should be extra careful not to get infected. Make sure everyone washes their hands thoroughly and regularly. The little patient’s towels, bed linen and toys are initially taboo for the other siblings and must be cleaned regularly.
  • In order to prevent other children from becoming infected, kindergarten , school and meetings with friends have to be canceled for the next few days. If there are no more blisters to be found and the spots have crusted over and healed, there is usually no longer any risk of infection.

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