Impetigo won’t go away permanently

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Hi there, I’ve had recurrent impetigo for about four months now and I’m not sure what to do anymore. It started after I got a cut on my elbow, but it then spread to my face. I’ve been given antibiotics by my doctor each time it’s cropped up, causing it to go away pretty quickly, but about two weeks later it will start on my face again and spread like wildfire until I can get back to my dermatologist for another course of antibiotics. I’ve done face washes, nasal swabs, replacing my pillows and sheets, bleach baths, anything you can imagine, but it still comes back.  It’s really depressing to wake up and see it on my face again, and it interferes with my life as I don’t go out of my house when I have it. It was cultured by my dermatologist who told me it was staph, but I was most recently referred to Infectious Disease specialists, who thought it was herpes and gave me some antivirals. However, it’s been two days since and it’s shown no signs of improvement. Any help would be appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Hi, Jason, hope at this point you've experienced some relief and will let us know if the ID specialists hit on anything that really helped you.  Seems right now I'm having a repeat of what I went through earlier this year (January through March).  I was fine after that until a week ago but doesn't seem near as bad.  I wish I could offer you some actual advice, but it looks like you've definitely seen the so-called experts.  Yep, it IS depressing.  I haven't returned to my dermatologist or my family doctor since I have hydrocortisone ointment and mupirocin prescribed earlier this year, and I'm not in agony other than not sleeping as well.  It hasn't been as painful for me this time, just looks gross and like you, I tend to stay indoors and try to stay comfortable, not hard since I'm retired.  It's cold and dark here and I miss not getting out and talking my daily long walk, but it hurts worse with a wind.  No one I know has experienced this.  I wash the spots near my nose and mouth a few times a day with a mild cleanser (Cetaphil), then dab either dilute vinegar and water or Listarine mouthwash (don't know why I reached for that, but it can take the sting out) and for dryness apply some Aquaphor ointment, Vaseline or a bit of aloe lotion.  Tylenol seems to help with pain.  Chewing Wrigley's Extra peppermint chewing gum also helps sometimes, not sure why.  Before this episode started, I was around a nephew with a "cold," sore throat, bad cough and a lot of nose blowing. I just hope to God I look and feel better by Christmas, but I know the first bout lasted longer than a month.  I really can't believe somebody hasn't come up with something for us to use at this point that works more quickly and that you don't need a prescription for.  I may talk to somebody in a health food store soon, but I'm not hopeful about that.  Good luck to you.  

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  • Posted

    I'm in the middle of my latest flair-up myself. I get very disheartened hearing the facts that it may never stop recurring, but I haven't tried decolonization efforts yet.

    I've been getting it off and on for about 10 years. The first time was on the tip of my nose. A swab, a prescribed ointment and antibiotics cleared it up. Fast forward four years and it was back, on the corner of my mouth this time. Same course of action. One year later it was back on my nose, same course of action. After that it started coming back within six months of having been "cleared up".

    I decided it was the antibiotic's fault and tried letting my body fight it on its own, hoping it would build a natural immunity. So I went through the fevers, peeling off scabs with vinegar compresses to soak the wound in Hibiclens and Tea Tree Oil, and following up with plain yogurt facials, and it would go away...only to come back the next time my nose got chapped from cold weather or a sinus infection, etc. This time, I got it on my lip from letting my face get hotboxed in a humid unsanitized respirator while doing house renovations. This one is aggressive but I'm spot-killing as it goes by opening it up with vinegar and soaking it in Hibiclens. I know how to get rid of a case, and prevent it for a while, but I can't keep it away forever either. I would be very interested to hear any information about permanent control also.

    I'm sorry you're having to go through this too. I'm pretty sure I'm a nose carrier. I always get it on my nose or lip.

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    • Posted

      Hey Elizabeth,

      Shortly after I made my original post, my doctor advised everybody who lived in my house to decolonize as well, as someone could be a carrier that would spread to me but does not manifest it. We did this three months ago, and I have not had a flare-up since. I hope this works for you too. If it keeps recurring on your nose, I think the nasal swab should do the trick, if you haven’t already.

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  • Posted

    I realize this is an old post, but I thought my recent visit to the dermatologist might be helpful. I haven't yet had issues quite as severe as what you describe, but I did go on two rounds of antibiotic treatment (topical and powerful oral antibiotics mixed in with probiotics) and continued suffering symptoms over the span of a month without fully recovering. My skin would almost look back to normal right at the tail end of the antibiotic round. I had two primary care physicians telling me that I might have a severe autoimmune disease. I tried changing my diet and was freaking out over whether or not I might have a life-altering issue on my hands.

    The dermatologist I just visited told me this is an extremely common occurrence and something she sees all the time because many physicians don't bother to treat eczema at the end of a course of antibiotics, a common underlying cause of impetigo in older adults. She also told me it might have been kicked off by an allergic reaction to something in the desert environment, and this occurs all the time for people like me who have never had allergy issues in their lives. Even with some honey-colored weeping/oozing still occurring, use of triamcinolone 0.1% cream almost immediately made my skin issues go away (itching and rashes). I'm sure I would be going on my third round of antibiotics right now if I didn't see a specialist.

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