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Treating Impetigo Naturally in the Elderly

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: BStone • updated: 5/9/2011

Although impetigo is most common in the young, it can occur in the old. Learn about the causes and natural treatment of impetigo in elderly adults so you can help get rid of this contagious infection and prevent it from coming back.

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    Impetigo

    Impetigo Impetigo is a superficial infection of the skin, meaning it involves the top layers of the skin. Lesions begin as small red macules which rapidly become blisters that rupture and become covered with a honey-colored crust. It is highly contagious when there is oozing and crusting. Impetigo is seen in all ages, but is particularly common among infants and children living in poor hygienic conditions.

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    Causes of Impetigo in Elderly Adults

    Impetigo is a bacterial infection caused by staphylococci or streptococci (two bacterias that can live harmlessly on the skin). In adults, the bacteria often enters the body through injured skin or an existing skin condition like dermatitis. People who live in warm and humid climates, have a chronic skin problem or have a weak immune system are more likely to get it.

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    Natural Treatment for Impetigo

    Immune System

    The immune system in elderly adults are often weakened because of the aging process. The following can help improve its function:

    Diet

    The immune system needs the right nourishment to function properly and many older people suffer from nutrient deficiencies. Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Include a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and foods containing probiotics like yogurt. Avoid processed foods, foods containing trans fats and foods high in saturated fats and sugars. You may also want to take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.

    Herbs

    The following herbs can help boost your immune system to fight infections: echinacea, astragalus, goldenseal, ginseng, sage, nettle, licorice, St. John's wort, garlic and cayenne.

    Talk to your doctor before taking herbs or supplements.

    Topical Treatments

    Keeping the Area Clean

    Use warm water and a mild soap to gently wash the affected area two to three times a day. Do not use hydrogen peroxide or iodine. Both can be toxic to healthy tissue and can slow the healing process. After washing the area, soak the lesions in a warm saline solution or apply a warm compress to the site for 15 to 20 minutes. Heat dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow.

    Honey

    Before antibiotics, honey (a natural antiseptic) was often used to treat infections. In fact, it is making a come back because it has been shown to stop the growth of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. It does not cause damage to healthy tissue and it has no side effects like some antibiotics can have. Honey from the supermarket will not help. You will need to use a medicinal honey like manuka honey.

    The above natural treatments for impetigo can help elderly adults; however, it is recommended to seek medical advice.

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    References

    Medline Plus: Impetigo - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000860.htm

    Andrew Weil, M.D.: Impetigo - http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03033/Impetigo.html

    Photo by Mike Paro / Flickr

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    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.