IMPETIGO POSES THREAT TO CHILDREN WHO SCRATCH BUG BITES
Young children are
most vulnerable to insect bites because their size puts them
closer to the ground and to flowers and plants that harbor
bugs. A child's natural reaction to a bug bite is to slap
away the bug and then scratch the bite. But this scratching
puts them in danger of impetigo, a common bacterial skin infection
that is highly contagious and, if left untreated, can quickly
spread through a family or a day care center.
when a break in the skin, such as one caused by a bug bite
or a small scratch or scrape, comes in direct contact with
Streptococcal or Staphylococcal bacteria. In young children,
who often play in bacteria-laden sand piles and backyard
dirt, the bacteria lodges under their fingernails and then
enters the body when the children touch a bite or scrape.
Impetigo occurs most often on the face, arms and legs. The
disease can spread over a child's body through scratching
or rubbing a towel across a sore and then using the towel
on other body parts. The disease spreads to others through
direct body contact or through sharing of towels, bedding
or clothes. Young children whose play often involves direct
body contact are extremely vulnerable to impetigo.
The disease is
most common in hot, humid weather when insect bites abound
and make a child's body vulnerable to infection. The disease
usually begins with a reddish spot or bump on the skin.
Yellow pus accumulates and dries, leaving a honey colored
scab that can be itched. Generally not considered a serious
disease, impetigo does need prompt attention to stop the
spread of the infection to other people.
In extreme cases,
the infection can invade a deeper layer of skin and develop
into eczema, an ulcerate form of the disease in which small,
pus-filled ulcers with a crust much darker and thicker than
that of ordinary impetigo. Eczema can be very itchy and
can cause permanent scars and pigment changes if untreated.
In about one percent of cases, mainly in children, a kidney
disease, glomerulonephritis, can develop from impetigo.
Symptoms include nausea, headaches, low urine output or
puffiness around the face and on limbs.
"As with many
infections, the best defense is a good offense," says David
Kern, president of DAK Pharmaceuticals, makers of popular
skin care products that offer protection against outdoor
hazards and treatment for problems that do occur. "Impetigo
is just one reason why you and your children should avoid
bug bites by making sure you are protected with proper clothing
and with insect repellents that are appropriate for children.
Also, if a bite does occur, you should use a bite remedy
to help relieve the itching that causes the child to scratch
bites in the first place is the best way to fight impetigo,"