Common bacterial skin infections among children and how to treat and prevent them
The normal skin of a healthy child is resistant to invasion by most bacteria because the skin provides an effective barrier for protection. It takes a cut or a break in the skin for an infection to set in. When the skin does get infected, it is highly recommended that parents seek medical advice to institute immediate treatment.
Dr. Gisella E. Umali-Adasa, a pediatric dermatologist and a member of the Philippine Dermatological Society, said that before a child develops bacterial skin infection, there are a number of factors that need to be considered.
“Two kinds of infection generally develops in your skin, your primary and secondary infection. A primary infection develops in clinically normal skin and minor breaks in the skin integrity is needed to initiate this infection. Typically primary infections are small, superficially located in the skin and are commonly self-limiting.” Dr. Adasa explained. “Secondary infections, on the other hand, happen when a child already has an underlying or existing skin problem like eczema, atopic dermatitis or bites.”
She added that before a child develops bacterial skin infection, there should be a complex interplay of three factors – environmental, tissue or host and bacterial factors. Environmental factors would include the child’s surroundings wherein we take into consideration outdoor or indoor activity. Tissue or host factor would include the state of the child’s skin such as existing cuts or breaks in the skin or the presence of underlying skin condition and skin hygiene.
“Third would be the bacterial factor and since the skin is continuously exposed to bacteria it is most helpful to distinguish among resident and pathogenic bacteria” Dr. Adasa said. “The most common type is the resident bacteria or the normal flora that are commonly found on your skin. The other type of bacteria are the pathogenic bacteria which are not regularly part of this skin flora. Both may cause infection once the integrity of the skin is disrupted.”
If your child has a bacterial skin infection, Dr. Adasa said that the first thing a parent should do is to wash the infected area with mild soap and water. “While it is common to have a tube of antibiotic ointment at home as part of the first aid kit, it should be applied with due diligence and with proper education of parents,” Dr. Adasa said.
“This is because of the emergence of resistant bacterial strains. There are a lot of bacteria now that are resistant to common topical antibiotics and this is mainly because of misuse and misinformation.” She added that “if you recommend that parent should have this on hand, then make sure you also equip them with the right information on when and how to apply this.” However, the best recourse is to still have your child checked by a pediatric dermatologist who is a certified member of the Philippine Dermatological Society.
When asked for tips on how to prevent bacterial skin infections among children, Dr. Adasa said it is important to find solutions to the three factors that cause them namely, modify the environment, make the skin healthy and ensure good hygiene.
Foskina Ointment, a product of Glenmark, offers a wide range of activity over other available products. It is safer and much better tolerated. Foskina contains 2% Mupirocin , an antibiotic that is indicated for the topical treatment of bacterial skin infections like furuncles, impetigo and open wounds, among others. It is also extremely useful in the treatment of MRSA or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, which is becoming a significant cause of death in hospitalized patients receiving systemic antibiotic therapy.
The use of topical mupirocin has also been approved for pediatric patients and is well tolerated with low risk of any local irritation, systemic side effects or clinical deterioration. Foskina has been noted to be effective for the treatment of both primary and secondary superficial skin infections.
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CONSULT A PDS DERMATOLOGIST, THE DermAuthority.