Skin, Hair & Nails

Treat Impetigo With These Five Natural Remedies

Date: 20 September, 2007
Keywords: , , , , ,

Although antibiotics normally provide an effective way of clearing up impetigo, they can weaken your immune system in the process. For this reason, it makes sense to take steps to bolster your bodys defences. There are numerous natural remedies that can help do this and, better still, many help fight the infection in the process. You may find that you need to use a combination of the following for best results:

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Impetigo is a highly contagious skin disease that can affect anyone, although it is most common among children and dermatitis sufferers. Older adults and people with diabetes or a compromised immune system are also more prone to developing the condition, as are those with skin injuries such as cuts, scrapes or insect bites.

The condition first appears as a small scratch or itchy patch of eczema on seemingly healthy skin. Normally this occurs on your face, especially around the corners of your mouth, nose, and the backs of your ears. A small red, itchy spot then quickly develops into a pus-filled blister. Eventually the top of the blister becomes crusty and weeps while new blisters develop in the same place or spread to other parts of the body.

Two types of bacteria are responsible for causing impetigo Staphylococcus aureus (staph) which is the most common, and Streptococcus pyogenes (strep). Both types of bacteria can live harmlessly on your skin until they enter through a cut or other wound and cause an infection.

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Doctors routinely prescribe topical and oral antibiotics for treating impetigo

The first line of defence against impetigo generally involves the use of an antibiotic cream such as fucidin, which helps to control the infection locally. However, topical antibiotics arent always effective and bacteria can become resistant to them over time.

If this happens or the infection spreads to another part of your body, your doctor may recommend an oral antibiotic, such as flucloxacillin. These work in the majority of cases but can cause unpleasant side effects, such as joint pain, anaemia, diarrhoea, or skin rash.

How to prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of your body and infecting others

Make sure you take the following precautions to prevent impetigo from spreading:

  • **As obvious as it may sound, avoid touching the infected area this not only prevents the infection from spreading but also minimizes your risk of being left with unsightly scars, which can soon develop if you scratch the irritated area and wash your hands regularly.
  • **Keep your nails short as the bug can get under your fingernails and be passed on to others.
  • **Wash clothing, towels or bed linen every day and dont share these items with anyone else.
  • **Gently wash the affected area with mild soap and cool boiled water and then cover lightly with clean gauze.
  • **Wear gloves when applying antibiotic ointment and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

5 natural remedies to overcome impetigo and give your immune system a much-needed boost

Although antibiotics normally provide an effective way of clearing up impetigo, they can weaken your immune system in the process. For this reason, it makes sense to take steps to bolster your bodys defences. There are numerous natural remedies that can help do this and, better still, many help fight the infection in the process. You may find that you need to use a combination of the following for best results:

1. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis): Researchers have discovered that Goldenseal contains anti-infective chemicals such as berberine, beta-hydrastine, canadine and canadaline. They have been found to be particularly effective against infections caused by staphylococcus and streptococcus which, as already mentioned, are the two main culprits that cause impetigo. The recommended dosage amount for Goldenseal is one 250mg tablet taken three times a day. Goldenseal is also available in cream or liquid form for external use apply directly to the infected area of skin three times a day.

2. Olive oil: The use of olive oil as a mild antiseptic for the skin has been known since biblical times. Recently, Turkish scientists from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Izmir Institute of Technology, revealed that olive oil contains rutin and oleuropein powerful chemicals that are effective against infectious bacteria, including staphylococcus aureus. Apply a few drops of olive oil over and around the infected area, four times a day. Olive oil is best used as a preventative. For example, you should apply olive oil if you are in contact with someone who already has impetigo, especially if you have any type of skin injury as this dramatically increases your risk of catching it.

3. Tea Tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia): After examining past studies, scientists from the Department of Complementary Medicine, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, reported that there is now a great deal of evidence to suggest that tea tree oil is an effective treatment against the staphylococcus bug, which causes impetigo. In addition, the scientists found that ordinary tea appears to offer protection against the infection too. Commenting on the findings they said: Positive results were reported for an ointment containing tea leaf extract in impetigo contagiosa infections. This area seems to merit further study through rigorous clinical trials. Apply two to three drops of tea tree oil to the effected area three times a day.

4. Zinc: Several studies have shown that this mineral plays a key role in improving immunity. In addition, a study has revealed that zinc can reduce the risk of impetigo developing in premature babies. This is an important finding, as these babies have immature immune systems which makes them vulnerable to developing infections like impetigo. The recommended dosage of zinc (as zinc citrate) for adults is 15mg daily.

5. Myrrh (Commiphora mol-mol): Myrrh oil is able to reduce levels of inflammatory chemicals, such as interleukin and tumour necrosis factor, in the blood. This is important, as keeping concentrations of these chemicals to a minimum means that your body stands a far better chance of successfully fighting off infections. Doctors reported a case of a diabetic patient who was treated with a mixture of myrrh and honey in order to control a serious infection caused by staphylococcus aureus (the same bacteria that causes impetigo). The infection cleared up completely following daily application of this mixture. The doctors believe that this was due to the anti-infective properties of myrrh and the soothing, antiseptic effect of the honey. As we’ve reported in past issues, manuka honey in particular is extremely effective for treating serious infections, including MRSA. To benefit from manuka honey, take two to three teaspoonfuls (10-15g) before meals. A few drops of myrrh can be added to water, for external use, to wash the infected area. However, because the strength of the mixture can vary depending on which product you purchase, it is important that you closely follow the manufacturers instructions.

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Sources:
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J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55(4):1227-36
J Antimicrob Chemother. 2003;51(2):241-6
J Nutr. 2003;133(5 Suppl 1):1494S-7S
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Toxicol In Vitro. 2006;20(2):248-55
Br J Biomed Sci. 2006;63(4):171-3
Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2006 Nov 17; (Epub ahead of print)

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Comments

  1. ann Posted May 1, 2013

    Have had nasal infection for months now, tried colloidal silver, castor oil, apple cider vinegar, managed to keep it under control but never healed it until I tried coconut oil!!!! Cant believe it, felt the effect straight away, been using it now for 2 days and I can safely say the infection has practically gone. I applied it often during the day with clean cotton buds, never using the same end twice. If you can use organic brand all the better, mine is not organic but works. Good luck.

  2. Jake Posted July 18, 2012

    Vicky, yes, honey will work on the lips as well.

    I have also used honey near my eyelids which was very sensitive to anything else being applied (esp tea tree oil should not be used on sensitive areas).

    Guys, let us know which ones worked for you. That will help other readers.

  3. Kim Posted May 9, 2012

    Thank you. I ran down the street and found the blemish stick at the natural food store. Just one question. Do you apply directly or on your finger, etc.? I’m afraid to reinfect myself if I touch the stick to my face. I will look for the other remedies listed. Anything that will help as soon as it starts is soooo helpful! I kind of like the burn. I like to feel it working!

  4. vanessa Posted May 3, 2012

    adam , jake thank you , im going to try them all !. 13 + years of getting impetigo has left me fed up !, i feal like a dirty plague carrier . i will try any thing to put a end to my hiding away as ive got impetigo once again ! , no one else gets it in my house, only me grrrrrr. i wish it could be cured completely

  5. Vicky Posted March 7, 2012

    Jake I have been looking a Manuka honey as I have had impetigo on my lips for abuot 2-2.5 months. I thought that it had practically gone after talking several antibiotics but it has started to come back and I am feeling desperate! Do you think Manuka honey will work on my lips?

  6. Jake Posted October 27, 2011

    One effective treatment I have used just this week is manuka honey. Its amazing and It cleared it up in a 3 days. My doctor could not diagnose it correctly and put me on corticosteroids and anti histamine. That cleared it up for a week but it came back this week.

    After researching on the net, I got this manuka honey from the health food store and it worked but its sticky and you have to keep applying it every few hours. Once I got over the sticky part, it was fine.

    You can feel the burning when you apply to the affected skin.

  7. Adam Posted October 14, 2011

    I have found something that i like better now for the imeptigo than the blemish sticks I metioned above. It is along the same line but comes in a gel and seems to work better for me this way. It is “pure & Clear” acne treatment gel from nelsons. It has some of the same ingredients but is a gel form. This avoids the drips I have had with the blemish sticks. it seems to work as good or better. The key ingredient it has may be the tea tree oil. So this may be another to try.

  8. Adam Posted January 21, 2011

    Glad to hear my post has helped someone see a difference.

    With a recent outbreak I again have both types of sticks and have been alternating for the last day. Within 24 hours it has reduced the inflamed dime size area down a great deal. It seems to make it go through it stages very quickly. It has dried it out and is already having a very thin slight scab that seems to be healing. The last time it took about 6 days to heal the scab off to new pink skin so I am hoping for the same this time and think it is on track to do so or faster. It does burn a bit to apply it but worth it for the affect of healing so fast.

  9. Jordi Posted January 17, 2011

    Adam, I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you shared your story! Everything you have gone through so have I and I am at the point where I my doctor literally doesn’t know what more to tell me other than to keep using “bactroban” which hasn’t worked from the get-go. Thank you so so much. I’m leaving for the store to go get some of these blemish sticks now!
    Thanks again.
    Jordan

  10. Julia Posted October 11, 2010

    Having followed this chain of comments, I purchased the Desert Essence Blemsih Touch Stick, and used it on my 5-year old girl’s persistent impetigo. I was really amazed how quickly it cleared it up – literally within 12 hours. Previously we had been using antibiotic cream, but the impetigo was still gradually spreading. This stick is really fantastic – and I am a bit of a natural health cynic, so am not saying this lightly! It is also really easy to put on, and kids do not seem to mind the application or the smell. Thank you.

  11. cheryl Posted September 30, 2010

    thanks for the helpful link I am also a chronic impetigo sufferer. Can you get these blemish sticks from chemists or does it need to be health food shops.

  12. Gina Posted September 29, 2010

    Adam, thank you for the post…you are totally right…the Desert Essence blemish stick is working…its even making a small impetigo scar clear up. I’ve been to 2 doctors and 1 dermatologist and nothing has been working to the point of getting rid of this horrible disease completely, visually anyway….but this stick has made a big difference over night! thank you!

  13. Adam Posted September 12, 2010

    I have had recurring outbreaks of impetigo for many years now. I get it maybe once a year or less for the last 20 years. I have been getting it in 2 specific areas. On my temple area and the corner of my mouth. Usually after a flu, bad cold or high stress times. So far I have been able to rid it from my temple for the last 10 years but still get it in the corner of my mouth. I have had it diagnosed several times by doctors and have been prescribed the topical antibiotics. But these are always a bit greasy and don’t seem to work very quickly and always require a doctor visit, etc. I have tried many of the home rememdies on the web but have never had repeatable good results. But about 5 years ago or so I had a recurrence and was looking in the health food store for something to combat it and found something that works well. A blemish stick “desert essence blemish touch stick” seems to be very helpful in reducing the amount of time stopping and then healing the outbreak. Now at the first sign of the impetigo outbreak I start applying the blemish liquid to the area right away. I clean and wash the area a few time a day and use the blemish stick after each time and also apply it in between. So throughout the day for the first few days I apply the blemish stick to it 8-10 or more times a day. It does sting a bit but really helps keep it under control and heal it within a week or so every time. I find it helps reduce the amount of inflammation and amount of crusting that usually would occur. It contains many of the things people have reported help rid impetigo. And I can pick it up at the health food store as soon as I get an outbreak. I have also had some success with the “burt’s bees outdoor herbal blemish stick”. It is very similar and seems to be helpful with a little less of a burn. For this last time I got both and alternate using them. Hopefully this is helpful info to anyone who gets impetigo like I do.

  14. Ann Posted April 8, 2010

    Great article. Goldenseal is not absorbed in the GI tract and carried on to other parts of the body. Goldenseal is antimicrobial but it has to come in contact with the body part it is healing so you could swallow it and say help your mouth or bladder but not a impetigo on your nose or leg. Also it is not for the cold but would be could if you had had a cold and days into it wanted to ward off a secondary bacterial infection.

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