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Ask Dr. Gott 8/14
Unsightly impetigo a contagious infection
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 24-year-old woman who has suffered from recurring impetigo my entire life. As for my medical history, I am 5 feet 9 inches tall and weigh 138 pounds. Twice a year, without fail, I get this horrible sore on my lower lip that spreads to part of my chin. I can always get it to go away in about two weeks. Meanwhile, it is very unsightly and painful. I cannot disguise it with makeup because it spreads if touched.
    I am very careful not to use washcloths or towels more than once during an outbreak. I wash everything in hot water. Do you know what else I may take to prevent getting this?
    DEAR READER: Impetigo is a skin infection that often affects infants and children, but it can also affect adults. It begins as red sores that rupture, ooze and form a yellowish/brown crust. The lesions form when bacteria enter the skin, most commonly through insect bites or cuts. Unfortunately, it can also develop in healthy skin. This highly contagious condition can easily spread to other individuals or to other parts of the body simply by scratching or touching the sores. While seldom serious, it can be painful, inconvenient and unattractive.
    Two types of bacteria, staph and strep, cause the condition. Both can live on healthy skin and remain harmless until the skin is compromised through an open sore, cut or rash. Staph bacteria produce a toxin that attacks proteins that help bind skin together. If such protein is damaged, bacteria are free to spread rather quickly.
    A deep form of impetigo is known as ecthyma. It is marked by large boils and sores, crusting lesions that commonly appear on the skin of the legs. Ecthyma can develop in individuals with diabetes or in those with a compromised immune system.
    Complications of advanced impetigo are kidney inflammation, cellulitis, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and a strain of staph resistant to most antibiotics.
    Treatment of impetigo is primarily centered on hygienic measures. Keep your skin clean and avoid skin-to-skin contact with infected individuals. Avoid using towels and clothing of infected individuals and do not sleep in their bedding.
    When there is any doubt about the possibility of the condition, visit your primary care physician, who can likely make a diagnosis simply by visual examination. Should questions remain, a culture can be sent to a laboratory for analysis.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Recently, you mentioned you can only buy fruit pectin in small boxes. We own a bulk food store and carry the product in 55-pound bags, selling it in smaller amounts by the pound. If anyone wants, we will gladly send the product via UPS. Our contact information is Maysville Country Market, LLC, 8593 Mt. Hope Road, Apple Creek, OH 44606.
    DEAR READER: Many of my readers have used fruit pectin successfully as an alternative treatment for arthritis. Therefore, because you are providing a service that can be beneficial for the relief of their pain, I am enclosing your information and thank you for forwarding it to me.
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