Spreading of Contagious Impetigo Rash, Treatment and Incubation Period

Not to be confused with ringworm or scabies, the impetigo rash also produces repulsive, gruesome, blistery, crusty contusions usually on the most inconvenient area of the body—the face. While it prevails in children, adults may also succumb to the grotesque purpura, just less regularly so.

Here we’ll address the burning questions most frequently asked about the infection—is impetigo contagious and if so, how long is impetigo contagious for? But let’s put our shoulders to the wheel and start at the beginning.

How Do You Get Impetigo in the First Place?

Two very abundant bacterial pathogens are responsible for impetigo—Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. These pathogens are normally occurring in the human microbiota, residing on the skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis. Infections eventuate when the bacterium finds it’s way inside, via any open gash or bloody wound.

If staph or strep enters the system, an impetigo rash may emanate. However, staph and strep can cause an array of other ailments as well, depending on its manifestation. Strep can cause cellulitis, erysipelas, strep throat, and scarlet fever. Staph can launch Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome, boils, and abscesses.

Is It Painful?

Indeed, the impetigo rash can be quite painful. Additionally, it can be very difficult to suppress the urge to scratch the rashes and blisters, as impetigo is also sometimes very itchy. Impetigo is a predominantly uncomfortable condition to encounter and tolerate.

Will It Leave a Scar?

If there’s any good news you’ll read in this article, it’s right here—impetigo rashes and their accompanying erupted blisters of pus will very rarely lead to lifelong scarring.

Unfortunately, of course, there’s a caveat! One less common type of impetigo called ecythma is deeply rooted and the scab left behind will almost always leave a scar after the infection subsides.

Is Impetigo Contagious?

Yes, impetigo is highly contagious and it will spread like wildfire—a continue spreading after much devastation and destruction.

Contracting impetigo is as easy as coming into physical contact with the afflicted. It’s been nicknamed ‘school sores’ because it affects kids of schooling age, as well as their proximity to one another while in attendance. Like the chicken pox of decades agone, impetigo can disseminate across an entire classroom before the second quarter breaks for the winter Christmas holiday.

The typical incubation period for staph impetigo is 4 to 10 days and only 1 to 3 days for strep.

Define “Incubation Period”

In the medical community, the phrase “incubation period” refers to the amount of time it takes to become infected and display symptoms once exposed to the communicable agent.

How Long Is Impetigo Contagious For?

Upon learning that you can contract impetigo in as little as 24 hours, it’s safe to wonder for exactly how long you or your child is posing a threat to other household members.

Primarily, if you suspect your son or daughter has impetigo, visit your doc. They’ll prescribe the right meds to relieve the infection. After just one diurnal cycle on the medicine, it’s impervious to enjoy the company of others—be it in the schoolyard or the football field, or just an innocent play date.

How Do You Treat Impetigo?

As mentioned, at the inaugural suspicion of impetigo, promptly obtain the next available appointment with a specialist. He or she will stipulate a strict antibiotic regimen to knock the infection out.

Topical cures like Bactroban (mupirocin) is a popularly prescribed ointment for treating impetigo, as well as oral antibiotics with penicillin such as Augmentin, Amoxicillin, and Keflex.

Should the cultures show signs of MRSA, which is resistant to some drugs, alternatives like Septra and Bactrim may be ordered instead.

While visiting the doctor is the safest, surefire way of obtaining a conclusive diagnosis, if this isn’t your first rodeo and you’re positive you can clearly identify impetigo (perhaps one child passed it along to their brother or sister), the mild versions of it are relatively easy to manage at home. Just clean the affected area or areas and gently scrub or peel away the crusty scabs first, then apply an OTC antibacterial cream like Neosporin or Mycitracin.

Protecting Yourself or Your Child Against Impetigo

Ghastly images in the media often are captioned with a detailed description of the vile skin condition. It’s enough to make you feel like you need a shower. So, rather than asking ‘how do you get impetigo?’ it would behoove you to pose the inquiry of ‘how do you prevent impetigo?’ instead.

Even though it’s no big deal, an impetigo diagnosis isn’t a wonderful circumstance either. Why endure the horrendous bulbous sores (or allow your babe to suffer) and deal with impetigo treatment when you can dodge the painful skin ulcers altogether? Here are some tips:

  • If your child’s school has an impetigo outbreak, just keep him or her home until it passes.
  • If someone in the house has it, don’t touch them under any circumstances whatsoever.
  • Adhere to the highest standards or personal hygiene by showering routinely and thoroughly.
  • Keep any scrapes, cuts, or wounds covered and bandaged exhaustively.

Bonus: How Do You Pronounce Impetigo?

Pronouncing the word correctly should stand as the least of anyone’s concerns, however, we’re here to correct everyone that insists on uttering “EM peht ago.”

To avoid embarrassment the next time you’re waxing on about your offspring’s disease, be sure to say “ihm PUH TYE goh.”



Article References:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/impetigo.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441868/
  3. https://www.medicinejournal.co.uk/article/S1357-3039(06)00189-7/abstract
  4. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/group-strep-types
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/staph-infections/symptoms-causes/syc-20356221
  6. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/impetigo-school-sores
  7. https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/impetigo.html
  8. https://www.medicinenet.com/impetigo/article.htm#how_do_health_care_professionals_diagnose_impetigo