Amy Winehouse is in hiding. The reason? She has been diagnosed with impetigo – a highly contagious superficial bacterial skin infection, which has caused a large lump on her face.
So what is this condition, who gets it, and what can be done to treat and prevent it?
Here are 10 quick facts on this condition:
- Impetigo is fairly common, but usually affects more children than adults.
- It usually attacks the exposed areas of the arms, the legs and the face.
- Infected areas are usually between the size of a 10c coin and a R5 coin.
- The staphylococci bacteria causing this can be found everywhere: from grimy bathrooms, spoiled food, to the normal bacteria present in everyone's bodies.
- The bacteria get in through a cut, crack or abrasion in the skin – often when people are using soap or a towel previously used by an infected person.
- Physical contact can spread the infection to other parts of the body and to other people.
- The infection starts with a patch of swollen red skin that may develop into blisters. In severe cases, the infection invades deeper skin layers, and may cause scarring or changes in the colour of the skin.
- Good personal hygiene and a clean environment will prevent impetigo. Regular washing will clear up mild forms of impetigo.
- If regular washing doesn't do the trick, a doctor will prescribe a topical antibiotic ointment.
- Impetigo clears up within a week or so if there are no complications.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, March 2008)