Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection, caused by staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria and is manifested in the form of honey-colored crusts on the nose, face, arms and legs in children aged between 2-6 years.
It is not uncommon in adults too, who play close contact games like rugby, football, wrestling, etc.
Most often, topical or oral antibiotics are used for treating this disease. However, the rapid co-evolution of bacteria that are developing resistance against antibiotics makes these treatments less effective in mitigating the symptoms of impetigo.
Hence, a combination of natural remedies, maintenance of a good hygiene and a strong immune system can help in slowing down the progression of the disease by targeting its underlying mechanism.
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also termed as ‘mother’ is enriched with vitamins like B-vitamins, vitamin A, C and E and minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, zinc, etc., that enables it to improve blood circulation and strengthen the immune system to ward off the bacteria in a shorter duration of time.
Most importantly, it acts as one of the most powerful anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent, when used as a topical agent. Bacteria require an acidic environment to flourish and apple cider vinegar makes your body alkaline, thereby making it impossible for the bacteria to grow. Dilute 1/4th cup of apple cider vinegar in two cups of water and clean the lesions and blisters using this remedy twice a day.
A warm water treatment, two to three times a day generates enough heat to sterilize the affected skin areas and prevent the bacteria from multiplying. Soak and rinse the area affected by crusts and rashes in warm water for about 10-15 minutes. Wipe the region using a soft towel.
You can also use a compress containing warm saline water (water mixed with salt) before applying ointments and medicinal soaps for enhancing the effects of these medications in eliminating the bacteria.Salt being a potent de-hydrant draws out water from the bacteria through osmosis and shrinks the bacterial cell wall.
This eventually helps in killing the infection causing bacteria and prevents the lesions from swelling. For obtaining a soothing effect, wash the blisters using warm water mixed with 2-3 drops of lemon grass oil and patchouli oil.
Allicin, the active ingredient in garlic exhibits anti-bacterial properties that can be exploited for killing the bacteria on the skin surface that are responsible for causing impetigo. Its anti-inflammatory properties help in reducing pain, swelling and redness of skin rashes and blemishes that occurs due to impetigo.
It is also composed of vitamin A, which acts as an immune stimulant by increasing the flow of immune cells to the site of infection for engulfing the bacteria. Hence, external application of garlic oil on the affected skin improves circulation, thus enabling the skin to acquire adequate amounts of oxygen, vitamins and minerals for restoring the health of the skin.
Consuming only fruits for the first four days followed by a well-balanced diet including the following foods can speed up the process of recovery.
The most effective remedy for combating bacterial infections is to strengthen your immune system that will help you in tapping into the body’s natural healing abilities.
These foods include oats, barley, yogurt, apples, green tea, chicken soup, fish, turmeric, sweet potatoes, etc.
Skin irritations caused by impetigo can be dramatically reduced by consuming foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids like fish oil, cod liver oil, flax seed oil, walnut oil, etc., that have the capability of suppressing excessive inflammation of the skin. This helps in reducing the redness, itching and swelling of the rashes and blemishes present on the skin.
Foods rich in vitamin A and E like apricots, peaches, carrots, milk, green leafy vegetables, avocados, nuts, etc. help in healing the affected areas and prevent rashes and scars that occur due to constant itching and scrubbing of the infected body parts.
Foods rich in vitamin C and zinc like orange, pineapple, papaya, apple, grapes, etc. contain powerful anti-oxidants that help in eliminating free radicals from the body that can aggravate the symptoms of impetigo.
Yoga serves as an excellent way for revitalizing your energy levels for rejuvenating and restoring the health of your skin. It detoxifies your skin and promotes blood circulation to ensure an adequate supply of nutrients and vitamins that are vital for treating skin infections like impetigo.
Also, it helps to keep emotional factors like stress, anxiety and depression under control that can trigger or aggravate the symptoms associated with impetigo. You can either use deep breathing exercises or Pranayam for stabilizing your mood states or you can incorporate yoga postures like the head stand posture, standing forward bend, child’s pose, etc. to improve blood circulation in your skin and to flush out all the toxins that promote bacterial growth.
Maintaining a good hygiene by using certain anti-bacterial soaps and lotions prescribed by the doctor and washing the clothes, pillow covers, sheets, etc. of the infected individual with warm water can help in preventing the infection from spreading to the other parts of the body.
Even though, the blisters can be itchy, avoid touching or scratching them to prevent them from bursting that can in turn, spread the infection to the rest of the body parts. Cut the nails short to ensure that the nails do not harbor bacteria when you touch the lesions. Since, impetigo is a contagious disease, it is important to separate the patient’s towels, clothes, scrubs, razors and every other personal object from rest of the family members.
In addition to the above-mentioned remedies, garlic oil, olive oil, turnip oil, grapefruit seed extract, aloe vera, etc. can also be used for cleaning the sores and for providing relief from itching.
Despite the fact that these remedies can help to a great extent for relieving the itching and inflammation of the skin caused by impetigo, it is mandatory for you to seek advice from a medical practitioner before incorporating these alternatives into your treatment regimen. The severity of your condition can only be gauged by the doctor, who may accordingly suggest some antibiotics in addition to the complementary therapies being used.