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Impetigo - What will happen to me?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

With treatment, impetigo usually goes away in a few days. But some people find it comes back again.

Impetigo will probably go away eventually, even without treatment. But it might take two or three weeks, and it could spread further around the body.[2] People are usually advised to get treatment, partly to stop it from spreading to other people.

Impetigo doesn’t usually cause other problems. Rarely it causes inflamed kidneys (called glomerulonephritis), which needs treatment.[4]

One problem with impetigo is that it may come back. Sometimes this is because of an underlying skin condition, like eczema, which means you’re more likely to keep getting impetigo.[1] Or it may be because of another infection, like ringworm or head lice, that causes scratching, so the skin keeps getting broken.[2] In these cases, it’s important to have the other infection or skin condition treated properly.[1]

Another problem is that some Staphylococcus aureus bacteria have evolved to become immune to the usual treatment. This is called antibiotic resistance. It happens when a treatment is used too often, and bacteria that are no longer killed by the usual antibiotic start to breed. In this case, you may need to try different types of treatment.[5]

But most people find their impetigo goes away with the first skin cream or ointment that the doctor prescribes.

It can be frustrating and upsetting if a skin infection keeps coming back. You may be fed up with going to the doctor for treatment. People often feel upset when they or their children have scabs on their face, which they may be very sensitive about.[3] It’s important to see your doctor again, though, so he or she can find out why you keep getting the infection, so it can be treated properly.

Glossary

antibiotics

These medicines are used to help your immune system fight infection. There are a number of different types of antibiotics that work in different ways to get rid of bacteria, parasites, and other infectious agents. Antibiotics do not work against viruses.

bacteria

Bacteria are tiny organisms. There are lots of different types. Some are harmful and can cause disease. But some bacteria live in your body without causing any harm.

eczema

Eczema is a very itchy rash. It may be dark and bumpy and release fluid. Scratching makes it worse. You can get eczema anywhere on your body, but it is most common on the wrists, the insides of the elbows and the backs of the knees. If you have asthma or allergies you are more likely to get eczema than someone who doesn't have these conditions.

ringworm

A ringworm is a type of fungus that causes infections in your skin. Doctors call it 'tinea'. A ringworm infection in the foot is called 'athlete's foot'.

For more terms related to Impetigo

Citations

For references related to Impetigo click here.
Last Updated: June 20, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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