A child's face affected by infantigo skin disease
Infantigo is a highly contagious skin disease, affecting mainly children and infants (hence the name Infantigo).

The disease appears as red sores around the face, especially around the nose and mouth areas.

The infection is especially hard on the child as these sores can often burst causing crusts and scabs. The good thing about infantigo is that, even though it seems horrible, it will go away on its own in a matter of weeks. Though, its duration can be shortened with the right set of antibiotics!

The infantigo disease is also called impetigo, along with other misspellings such as impitigo, infitigo, enfantigo.

What Is Infantigo? Definition And Diagnosis

Infantigo skin disease is usually caused by staphylococcus aureus(prevalent in colder countries), or more rarely streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. Even though impetigo can appear in adults, around 70% of affected individuals are children; as a matter of fact, this is one of the most common skin infections in children in the US.

Many parents are baffled by this disease and say “I take good care of my child`s hygiene,” what you need to know is that infantigo is not caused by the lack of proper personal hygiene. It is caused by bacteria which spreads rapidly, especially in tight, smaller communities and schools.

The disease can also spread rapidly amongst children that engage in close contact sports such as wrestling, or group sports activities such as basketball, football, volleyball, etc.

Global Prevalence Of Infantigo Skin Disease

The data gathered from the studies done in 2000 showed that the disease affects approximately 162 million children around the world.

Infantigo is prevalent in low, and low-middle income countries, mostly tropical where resources are scarce.

Infantigo Classification – Thee Main Types Of Infantigo:

Infantigo comes in three most common forms:

  • Infantigo contagiosa -this is the most common form of infantigo, characterized by red sores around the mouth and the nose which can break and cause scab. The good thing about these sores is that they are not painful (though they can be itchy), and breaks will usually go away without leaving a scar.
  • Bullous impetigo – common in children under 2 years of age, characterized by larger, fluid-filled blisters. Blisters are usually not painful, vary in size, but the skin around them can be itchy. The main difference with this form is that the blisters are mainly on the extremities (arms and legs) and the trunk.
  • Ecthyma – this is the most severe form of infantigo as the blisters are painful, pus-filled and can penetrate deep into the skin. When they break, they can form hard scabs and may even leave scars after they heal.

Though these blisters and scabs are not life-threatening or painful, it is important to instill in your child the discipline and good practice of not touching or scratching.

Scratching will spread the disease around the body and make it harder to heal. It will also result in the quicker spreading of the disease among the child’s peer group.

Infantigo Pictures – How Does It Look Like

The first signs of infantigo(impetigo) are patches of red, itchy skin. Gradually, they turn into blisters and pimples and, eventually, into sores that ooze yellowish fluid. And, of course, after the sores pop, scabs will start to form.

Scratching can, of course, worsen the condition, cause it to spread and picking scabs can lead to scars; which is why it is important to try and covey this to children. Explaining this to your child may be difficult (depending on the age as well), so it may not even be a bad idea to show your child some of the images of infantigo to help them figure out what they are up against. Here are some of the images of children suffering from this disease:

Image 1: Infantigo around the mouth (source:dermis.net)

Image 2: Bullous impetigo (source:Mayoclinic.org)

Most Common Signs And Symptoms Of Infantigo

Symptoms of impetigo will depend on its type; the most common form of impetigo is characterized by reddish, itchy skin, red sores filled with yellowish fluid which pop and result in scabs. These sores are commonly found around the mouth and the nose, but they may also spread around other parts of the body.

Other forms of this disease (as we stated above) can lead to massive blisters (sometimes painful) scattered around the body and varying in size. Sometimes these blisters can penetrate deeply into the skin and leave scars after the disease is gone.

Another common symptom is swollen lymph nodes around the affected area. This most commonly occurs in Ecthyma (the most severe type of Infantigo) and should be taken seriously.

What Causes Infantigo?

Infantigo is commonly caused by a highly contagious bacteria which spreads rapidly through direct and indirect contact(via the things the child might have touched).

Other factors may not directly cause the disease but can contribute to its spreading and severity.

Factors contributing to the appearance and spreading of infantigo are:

  1. Poor personal hygiene
  2. Ill health
  3. Weakened immun system
  4. Hot, humid (tropical) weather
  5. Spaces with poor ventialtion

How Is The Disease Transmitted?

We already stated that infantigo is transferred from one person to the next by direct contact (contact with blisters or the nasal discharge).

But the direct contact is usually not enough for a person to become infected. These bacteria (Streptococcus and Staphylococcus) need to penetrate the damaged skin and gain access. This is why the “attack” weaker skin around the mouth and nose.

If these blisters develop on child’s extremities, it means the skin was probably scratched or otherwise compromised.

As for the incubation period, for Streptococcus is quite quick (1-3 days), and exposure to Streptococcus bacteria will cause the disease in 5-10 days.

This is why the disease is often not diagnosed in time before it’s spread out to other children.

Getting Ready To See Your Doctor – Diagnosing Infantigo

Diagnosing infantigo yourself (especially in its early stages) can be very difficult, but you should make an appointment with your child`s doctor as soon as you notice there is something wrong (the itchiness does not go away, blisters or sores start to appear, etc.).

Since this is a highly contagious disease, you should ask your doctor how should you prepare yourself and your child(so you don`t infect other kids while you wait for your appointment). You should also discuss the symptoms with your child, possibly even list some of the symptoms and the exact time they started to appear.

Infantigo Treatment

Infantigo treatment is a gradual process, and it involves several crucial steps.

Treating infantigo in 3 steps:

  1. Soaking the scabs – soaking the scabs with warm water will help remove the pus/fluid that oozed out and help remove the overlaying scab
  2. Oral antibiotics – if there are only a few sores and scabs that are not affecting the quality of life of your child, the doctor might prescribe antibiotics taken orally(by mouth).
  3. Antibiotics and topical creams – if there are a lot of sores and scabs, the doctor will commonly prescribe an ointment or cream which you apply directly to the affected area to soothe the skin and the irritation.

Generally, most over-the-counter antibiotic creams containing bacitracin will help. If the sores are on the extremities, you can also buy a nonstick bandage to prevent the disease from spreading and your child from scratching and picking the scabs.

Infantigo Prevention

Even though we said that the appearance of the disease is not caused by the lack of proper personal hygiene, good hygiene is crucial for its control and prevention of spreading. Keeping your skin clean and healthy will minimize the threat and the danger for you and other people.

Steps to take to prevent Infantigo:

  1. Avoid – avoid contact with infected individuals to protect yourself from the disease
  2. Hygiene – keep your skin healthy and clean. Also, wash infected person’s clothes, towels and even sheets daily and don’t let them share it wth anyone else
  3. Nourish your skin to prevent cracks
  4. Trim your nails
  5. Protection – wear protective gloves when applying cream or treating your child`s skin
  6. Seek medical help if you suspect anything
  7. Don’t move – keep your kids at home (especially out of school) until the disease goes away