Impetigo

Birthmarks are abnormal skin discolorations in spots that are either present at birth or appear shortly thereafter. They can be flat or slightly raised from the skin. They can be any number of colors, including red, brown, black, tan, pink, white or purple. Birthmarks are generally harmless. There are two major categories of birthmarks: pigmented birthmarks and red birthmarks.

Pigmented Birthmarks can grow anywhere on the skin and at any time. They are usually black, brown or skin-colored and appear singly or in groups. They can be moles (congenital nevi) that are present at birth, Mongolian spots, which look like bluish bruises and appear more frequently on people with dark skin, or café-au-lait spots that are flat, light brown or tan and roughly form an oval shape.

Red Birthmarks (also known as macular stains) develop before or shortly after birth and are related to the vascular (blood vessel) system. There are a number of different types:

  • Angel kisses, which usually appear on the forehead and eyelids.
  • Stork bites, which appear on the back of the neck, between the eyebrows on the forehead, or on eyelids of newborns. They may fade away as the child grows, but often persist into adulthood.
  • Port-wine stains, which are flat deep-red or purple birthmarks made up of dilated blood capillaries (small blood vessels). They often appear on the face and are permanent.
  • Strawberry hemangiomas, composed of small, closely packed blood vessels that grow rapidly and can appear anywhere on the body. They usually disappear by age nine.
  • Cavernous hemangiomas are similar to strawberry hemangiomas but go more deeply into the layers of the skin. These can often be characterized by a bluish-purple color. They also tend to disappear naturally around school age.

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Impetigo is a common skin infection usually found in children and infants. It is characterized as single or multiple blisters filled with pus, which pop easily and leave a reddish, raw-looking base and/or honey-colored crust. In most children, impetigo first appears near the nose and then spreads through scratching to other parts of the face, arms or legs. The blisters tend to be itchy.

There are three forms of impetigo:

Ordinary Impetigo is caused by Streptococcal germs. It appears as red sores that rupture quickly, ooze a fluid and then form a honey-colored crust. It primarily affects children from infancy to age two.

Bulbous Impetigo appears as fluid-filled blisters caused by Staphylococcus germs. This contagious infection is carried by the fluid that oozes from the blisters.

Ecthyma, a more serious form of impetigo that penetrates to the second layer of skin (dermis). It is characterized by sores that are painful and/or fluid or pus-filled. These lesions most commonly appear on the legs or feet. The sores break open and scab with a hard yellow-gray crust. It can also cause swollen lymph glands in the affected area.

Impetigo is generally treated with a seven-to-10-day course of prescription oral antibiotics and/or topical antibiotics. The sores tend to heal slowly, so it is important to complete the full course of medications. Please note that over-the-counter topical antibiotics (such as Neosporin) are not effective for treating impetigo.