Infantigo (Impetigo): Causes, Symptoms and Effective Natural Treatments

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Infantigo (Impetigo): Causes, Symptoms and Effective Natural Treatments
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Infantigo is a common skin infection caused by bacteria and it is highly contagious. Infantigo is also called impetigo and can cause itchy skin rashes, sores, and blisters on the face around the nose and mouth, on the neck, and occasionally on the arms and legs. When the infantigo sores burst, they can ooze a yellowish liquid which then forms crusts on the skin.

Infantigo usually starts off as small red spots which quickly become itchy sores which cause an intense urges to scratch the affected area. The bacterial infection causing infantigo is easily spread and although it can affect anyone, children are more at risk from developing infantigo infections and spreading it to others. Bacteria on the hands commonly spread the infection to others through close contact like sharing toys, clothing, or other items.

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To treat infantigo it’s important to use soothing ointments and creams to kill off the bacterial infection and provide topical relief. Some of the best natural treatments for infantigo are tea tree oil, coconut oil, and garlic. These natural remedies have powerful antibacterial properties which can help to treat the infection. Other natural treatments use aloe vera and honey for their soothing effect on itchy skin as well as being able to kill off microbes that cause infection.

Before looking at the many effective home treatments for infantigo, let’s look in more depth at what causes the skin to develop infantigo infections and break out in sores.

The Symptoms and Causes of Infantigo (Impetigo)

Infantigo is caused by bacteria infecting the tissue of the skin. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, it’s the Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) or Streptococcus pyogenes (S. pyogenes) strains of bacteria that cause the skin to become infected.1

The National Health Service in the United Kingdom says that infantigo (impetigo) can be divided into 2 types:2

  • Non-bullous impetigo – accounting for around 70% of all skin infections.
  • Bullous impetigo

Non-bullous infantigo (literally “without large blisters”) causes itchy sores filled with fluid on the face and limbs to appear. These then burst and ooze pus before crusting over. Once the crusty flakes fall off, red marks are left on the skin which will disappear in time without leaving any scarring.

The first symptoms of bullous infantigo are large blister-like sores around the waist and neck. The blisters can be painful and you may experience intense itching in the skin around the infantigo blisters. When the blisters burst, fluid will drain from them, leaving behind yellowish-looking crusts, which is typical of all infantigo infections.

It is important not to scratch the infantigo blisters and sores, as this can cause the bacterial infection to spread and you risk spreading the infection by touching other items.

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Without treatment, it usually takes between 2-3 weeks for all symptoms of infantigo to clear up. However, there are many effective home remedies that kill off the infection that causes infantigo and helps speed up the healing process. In fact, it is wise to look for natural ways to cure infantigo because, according to doctors, many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, and so-called “super bugs” like MRSA have developed.

Natural Treatments for Infantigo (Impetigo)

To help cure the infection quickly and reduce the risk of infecting others, it is important to treat infantigo at the first sign of an infection. Here are some of the most effective natural treatments for infantigo.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is one of the best natural treatments for bacterial skin infections such as infantigo. The antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil make this an effective home remedy for infantigo.

Many scientific studies into the antimicrobial effect of tea tree oil found that it contains terpinen-4-ol, a powerful compound which destroys many strains of bacteria and fungi. A review of studies into tea tree oil found that it is effective against both the S. aureus and S. pyogenes strains of bacteria.3

The Journal of Hospital Infection also reported that tea tree oil also effectively kills off MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) skin infections.

To use tea tree oil to kill off the infantigo infection causing the itchy red rash, you should add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil (for example, coconut oil, olive oil or jojoba oil). Apply the tea tree oil remedy to the affected area 2-3 times a day to relieve itchiness and continue using until the skin inflammation has gone.

For very small areas of skin where you have infantigo (impetigo) infection (for example, a small spot or blister), you can use a drop or two of tea tree oil directly on the blister to get rid of the skin infection faster.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is another essential oil that can help to treat an infantigo infection. Just like tea tree oil, lavender oil is antimicrobial and can be used to heal skin infections like infantigo and kill off bacteria.

A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that the antibacterial efficacy of lavender oil successfully kills off MRSA skin infections.4 Studies have also found lavender oil to contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce redness caused by skin infections.5

You can apply one or two drops of lavender oil directly on individual infantigo skin blisters and sores to help quickly treat the infection and reduce the itchiness and swelling. However, for larger areas of skin infection, you should mix a tablespoon of coconut oil with 2-3 drops of lavender oil to get rid of pain and inflammation caused by impetigo sores.

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Virgin coconut oil

One of the many uses of coconut oil is as a natural healer for inflamed and infected skin, and as such it is a great natural remedy for infantigo. The sores caused by infantigo are sometimes itchy and always end up as dry and crusty skin. The fatty acid content of coconut oil makes it great soothing ointment for damaged, flaky skin. Virgin coconut oil also contains natural antibacterial properties that fight skin infections and prevent them spreading further.

The S. aureus bacterial infection causes both non-bullous and bullous impetigo which results in crusty scabs on the affected skin. The journal Dermatitis published a report proving that coconut oil reduces the colonization of the S. aureus bacteria strain and helps to moisturize dry, flaky skin.6

Coconut oil also has an effect on bacterial skin infections similar to that of antibacterial topical creams used to treat impetigo. Coconut oil contains a compound called monolaurin which acts as an antibiotic to kill off S. aureus and S. pyogenes bacteria strains in impetigo infections. A study into the healing properties of coconut oil found that it’s a “reasonable option for patients with impetigo.”7

One study published in 2012 compared virgin coconut oil with Mupirocin cream, a popular antibiotic cream used to treat infantigo. It found that the results, when compared, were encouraging and the therapy was well received by the patients.8

Fight the infantigo infection by applying virgin coconut oil directly onto the affected area. Its bacteria-fighting compounds will help to reduce the symptoms of infection. The soothing properties of coconut oil can also help to relieve itchiness and soreness around the infected skin area.

You can boost coconut oil’s effectiveness as a natural home remedy for infantigo by adding 2-3 drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil to one tablespoon of coconut oil.

Garlic

Garlic can help to naturally stop the spread of infantigo infection. Garlic is a natural antibiotic which can help to destroy bacteria that cause swelling, redness, and itchiness in skin infections. By fighting the infection, garlic will also reduce the amount of fluid and pus that builds up in the sores and blisters.

The antibacterial properties of garlic are due to a chemical compound called allicin. This powerful antimicrobial compound destroys many strains of harmful bacteria and fungi.9

Because of the increase in resistance of S. aureus to many traditional antibiotic topical treatments, garlic can be an effective natural alternative treatment for infantigo. A study published in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine showed that garlic extract can kill off antibacterial-resistant strains of bacteria. The scientists concluded that garlic is an effective natural treatment for bacterial infections which can also prevent the development of antibiotics resistance.10

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To use garlic as a powerful medicine and as a topical natural antibiotic for infantigo you should mix crushed garlic with a carrier oil (don’t apply neat garlic as it can burn the skin). Here is a recipe for making a natural infantigo treatment from garlic:

  • Crush one small clove of garlic and leave it to stand for 5-10 minutes. This allows the active antibacterial compound allicin to form.
  • Mix the crushed garlic with a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil.
  • Apply the garlic remedy to the skin area affected by infantigo to kill the bacterial infection.
  • Leave for 20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
  • Moisturize the affected skin with a small amount of coconut oil.

Repeat 2 times a day until your skin no longer shows any signs of infantigo and the crusty flakes of skin have gone completely. If this treatment causes skin irritation, increase the amount of coconut oil or decrease the amount of garlic.

You can not only use garlic as a topical natural treatment to heal infantigo sores on the skin, but you can also consume garlic daily to boost your immunity.

Honey

Honey is a natural antibacterial remedy to heal skin infections quickly and soothe itchy skin. The best way to use honey to inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause infantigo is to apply it directly to the skin.

The best type of honey to use to cure infantigo infections quickly is Manuka honey. Manuka honey is full of many health benefits and research has shown it to be an effective infection-fighter against both Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria strains. A study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy found that the complex antibacterial compounds of Manuka honey inhibit the growth of S. aureus bacteria.11 Also, Manuka honey was reported to be useful “in the topical treatment of wounds containing S. pyogenes.”12

To use Manuka honey to naturally treat symptoms of infantigo, apply a little amount of Manuka honey directly to the infantigo sores and blisters. Apply the natural honey remedy at least 2-3 times a day to allow its antimicrobial properties kill off the infection causing bacteria.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV)

You can use raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar to treat the itchy sores and blisters caused by infantigo. The acidic content of ACV helps to soothe itchy skin and reduce swelling and redness. The acetic acid in ACV is also an effective antibacterial treatment for infected skin.

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Bacteria cause biofilms to form on wounds which form small “communities” of infected cells. Studies into the effects of acetic acid on these biofilms found that it easily breaks them up to stop the spread of infection. One report published in the journal Advances in Wound Care found that acetic acid had a toxic effect on various strains of bacteria without causing damage to the skin.13 Apple cider vinegar is also effective against restraint bacterial strains.

To effectively and quickly eradicate bacterial skin infections causing infantigo, you should dilute raw apple cider vinegar with water (don’t apply undiluted ACV). Mix equal parts of ACV and water and apply to the infected skin area using a cotton ball. Apply the apple cider vinegar remedy to the impetigo blisters and sores 2-3 times a day to fight the infection and encourage the healing process. Continue to apply the remedy until the skin infection is gone and you no longer have fluid oozing from the sores.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is full of healing properties for the skin that can fight bacterial infections causing infantigo (impetigo) and soothe itchy crusty skin. Aloe vera can help to speed up the healing of the impetigo sores and reduce the intense urge to scratch them.

Scientific research has shown that aloe vera kills off the bacterial strains that cause infantigo. One study published in the Australasian Medical Journals reported that aloe vera can be used as a natural treatment against multi-drug resistant bacteria.14 Applying aloe vera gel helps wounds to heal quicker and can help to speed up healing of chronic blisters and sores on the skin, as well as reducing redness and swelling.

To help cure the symptoms of infantigo quicker, apply pure aloe vera gel directly to the affected area 2-3 times a day. Repeat applying the aloe vera remedy daily until all signs of impetigo have disappeared.

You should also apply a little aloe vera to the affected area any time your skin itches. This will help to reduce the urge to scratch and prevent spreading the infection further.

Keep applying the aloe vera gel even after the impetigo crusty sores have disappeared. It will help to reduce the redness on the skin quicker and the aloe vera will help to prevent any scarring. If you want to enjoy the benefits of both aloe vera and coconut oil, you can create your own DIY coconut oil and aloe vera gel healing lotion – find detailed instructions in my previous article.

Goldenseal

Goldenseal is an herb that you can use to fight the infection and relieve the symptoms of infantigo. Its antibacterial healing properties speed up the healing of wounds, sores, and blisters on the skin.

The various antibacterial compounds in goldenseal are also effective against bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotic drugs. Extracts from various parts of goldenseal have shown effectiveness against MRSA bacteria as well as other harmful strains of bacteria.15

The easiest way to use goldenseal to get rid of infantigo and prevent its spread is to use a natural cream containing goldenseal (like this one). Apply the goldenseal cream 2-3 times a day until the infection has disappeared and you no longer have itchy sores.

How to Prevent Infantigo (Impetigo) Spreading

Infantigo is a highly contagious skin disease and therefore great care has to be taken to avoid spreading the infection to other people.

To reduce the risk of infecting others and to prevent infantigo spreading, the NHS in the United Kingdom offer the following advice:2

  • Avoid touching or scratching the infantigo blisters or sores. You should help children understand the importance of not scratching their own sores.
  • Always wash your hands before and after applying treatment to the infected skin.
  • Don’t share towels, washcloths, or other linen with people infected with infantigo.
  • Keep an infected person’s or child’s belonging (clothes, toys, toiletries, etc.) isolated from other people.

The infantigo infection is no longer contagious when the sores have dried and healed.

Read my other related articles:
1. Itching All Over the Body – Causes and Natural Treatments
2. How to Get Rid of Ringworm: The Best Home Remedies
3. How To Get Rid Of Eczema: 13 Natural Remedies Backed By Research

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