Impetigo Vulgaris, or contagious, is a skin infection caused by bacteria, mainly affecting young children. It is not severe, but it is very infectious, so it must be treated as soon as possible.
It is called impetigo vulgar or contagious impetigo, an infection of the skin caused by bacteria, mainly affecting young children. The skin is made up of several layers of cells, the topmost being covered by a waterproof layer made of a substance called keratin. This substance protects us from the outside, especially from the bacteria that habitually live on our skin.
Although anyone can get impetigo, it is a disease that mainly affects young children. About 1% of European children have had impetigo in recent years. In Latin America, the figure is somewhat higher, especially among the tropics, where up to 15% of people are affected in childhood. Adults are affected much less frequently, but it must be taken into account that they can also be affected.
Impetigo must be treated as soon as possible, not because in itself it is a serious disease, but because it is very contagious for the people who are in contact with the child, and also because in some children, it triggers a reaction of the immune system that damages the children. Kidneys: postinfectious glomerulonephritis.
Causes of impetigo
The causes of impetigo are due to two types of bacteria that almost always infect at the same time:
- Golden staphylococcus ( S. aureus ): is a bacterium that invades the skin of healthy people almost always. It is not usually a problem, but in young children, the immune system or the skin is not mature enough, and it is easier for it to create an infection.
- Pyogenic streptococcus ( S. pyogenes ): This bacteria cannot be found in healthy people, it only appears when it causes infection, and many of these infections are very serious. However, just because this bacteria is present in impetigo does not mean that the disease is more serious.
These bacteria are continually multiplying on our skin, but only when they detect a weakness in our defensive barriers do they decide to attack together. Impetigo infection is superficial and It destroys the keratin layer by forming scabs. In principle, it does not cause discomfort because the bacteria do not pass into the blood. It is a superficial infection, but this is not entirely positive since the immune system cannot reach the infection source either. It is necessary to treat it with antibiotics.
Several factors facilitate the appearance of impetigo:
- Skin injuries: insect bites, superficial wounds, bites, etc. Impetigo can also occur on healthy, unbroken skin.
- Contact with infected people: it is a highly contagious disease.
- Lack of personal hygiene: despite this, impetigo occurs more frequently in people with good hygienic habits.
- Use of unsuitable soaps: some soaps and creams do not respect the skin’s pH and alter the usual bacterial flora on the body surface.
- Attendance at daycare centers or schools: when young children begin to go to daycare for the first time, it is normal that they can be infected through other children.
- Other infections at the same time: when a person is affected by a cold or gastroenteritis, their immune system is weakened, and it is easier for them to acquire impetigo.
Contact with infected animals: rare, it is more typical in rural areas of Central America and southern Mexico.