Does impetigo just go away?
January 4, 2009 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Apparently I have impetigo. (I showed my itchy patch of rash to an MD friend who is not a derm, and she said, impetigo or contact dermatitis). I don't want to go to the derm, as the co-pay is $50 and I don't have it. What can I do?

I googled pics of impetigo and it looks exactly like what I have. I'm uncomfortable but not in itchy agony. It's been more than a week of this oozy, crusty sore. My question is, has anyone had this and it just went away? Is anti-biotic ointment warranted? OR, have you ever asked your doc to waive the co-pay and been successful?
posted by pipti to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I suggest you show your rash to a pharmacist, who will either sell you the right OTC medication or tell you you really have to see a doc to get a scrip.
posted by acorncup at 9:41 AM on January 4, 2009

If you decide to go to the doctor, it's quite possible s/he will allow you to pay the co-pay in installments if you can't come up with it all at once. Waiving it isn't as likely, but you could certainly ask.
posted by veggieboy at 10:02 AM on January 4, 2009

IANAD. I had something impetigo-ish on my upper lip a month or two ago. I also had it as a kid. Regular gentle cleaning, and regular covering with triple antibiotic gel (neosporin or such) cured it for me after about 4 days.
posted by notsnot at 10:16 AM on January 4, 2009

Sounds like it can be treated at home. Obviously, if it gets worse, go to the doctor.
posted by theora55 at 11:21 AM on January 4, 2009

I've been misdiagnosed by my PC doc multiple times for skin stuff. Dermas, like other specialty docs, will know a) what it is you have and b) what treatment you need. Its worth the copay. Consider asking the doc very directly and pitifully about paying it in installments, they might wave it. I know a couple of doctors who have done this for particularly needy patients (God bless them).
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:28 AM on January 4, 2009

I had something below my lips a long time ago, and it wouldn't go away (lasted like a month) until I saw a doctor and he said "impetigo," and then I think I just applied polysporin or neosporin. It went away in a few days. My sore was pretty small, just a little bigger than a bad zit. If your rash is in a sensitive area though, I would go see a a derm before putting on any medicated ointment.
posted by bread-eater at 12:19 PM on January 4, 2009

I had impetigo once when I was four, got it from a sandbox in the park. My mother took me to our family doctor and he prescribed a prescription strength antibiotic cream. So I would try as others suggest, an OTC antibiotic cream (like Neosporin) and soaking in warm soapy water. If that fails after about a week, try going to see your regular doctor about it. Impetigo is so common among children that I highly doubt that even a less experienced general practitioner wouldn't be able to recognize it and treat it successfully. A doctor that you see regularly and has a relationship with you is more likely to consider letting you pay the copay in installments (probably won't waive it though). If not, isn't there someone that would lend you $50 (or whatever the copay would be to see your regular doctor)?
posted by katyggls at 12:48 PM on January 4, 2009

I went two years with a recurring, localised rash that sounds a bit like yours. At times it was quite oozy, often itchy, mostly uncomfortable. It came and went at really strange intervals.

I was initially diagnosed with a fungal infection, which seemed weird since no one around me got it. Then it was a bacterial infection that antibiotics did nothing to clear up. I then tried a prescription cortisone cream, to no avail.

Turns out (after waiting on a list for 6 months to see a dermatologist) that it was severe contact dermatitis all along, which we narrowed down to the used of my DJ headphones.

If I could have paid to see the dermatologist sooner, I would have- but I live in Canada.
Go to the derm, because your GP(or your MD friend!)will just work on trial and error- tons of skin conditions look alike.

Please, please go to the dermatologist- I spent a year and a half telling people I had a nasty fungal infection that I had to keep exposed to stay dry. No point on disgusting everyone around you if you can help it.
posted by sunshinesky at 12:52 PM on January 4, 2009

I take care of impetigo on my children with a gentle wash application of OTC hydrocortisone NAD anti-biotic cream like neosporin. Works like a charm.
posted by jadepearl at 1:57 PM on January 4, 2009

I had a nasty case of impetigo on the side and back of my neck two years ago. I was using hydrocortisone at home but it was getting worse. I went to an urgent care center (the pain associated with it was keeping me up at night) and a doctor there prescribed antibiotics. That cleared it up within about five days.
posted by phrayzee at 2:05 PM on January 4, 2009

I think you should spend the $50.

Impetigo is one of large number of human diseases caused by group A streptococcus (GAS) bacteria. I've been interested lately in a group of childhood illnesses also apparently caused by GAS, collected under the general title PANDAS, which include cases of Tourette's, OCD, and tics, possibly as well as some cases of Asperger's and autism.

The very interesting Wikipedia article I linked has a list of other disorders that have been hypothesized to be associated with GAS:

* Sydenham's chorea
* Tourette syndrome
* Dystonia
* Myoclonus
* Parkinsonism
* Paroxysmal Dystonic Choreoathetosis
* Motor Stereotypies
* Encephalitis lethargica

Allow me to direct your attention to myoclonus:

Myoclonus (pronounced /maɪˈɒklənəs/) is brief, involuntary twitching of a muscle or a group of muscles. It describes a symptom (as opposed to medical sign) and, generally, is not a diagnosis of a disease. The myoclonic twitches or jerks are usually caused by sudden muscle contractions; they also can result from brief lapses of contraction. Contractions are called positive myoclonus; relaxations are called negative myoclonus. The most common time for people to encounter them is while falling asleep (hypnic jerk),

The question you asked in August, Why am I so twitchy?, sounds like a classic case of myoclonus, right down to the connection with falling asleep: "I feel it most when I'm falling asleep and waking up."

I'd be very interested to know if you experienced a worsening-- or a cessation-- of your myoclonus as you developed this rash.

For whatever it's worth, some children with PANDAS related problems get better immediately when treated with antibiotics, while others do not. If I were you, though, and it is indeed impetigo, I think I would want to try the antibiotics.
posted by jamjam at 2:21 PM on January 4, 2009

Impetigo is very contagious. Be very careful about touching other people (or other parts of your own body) when your hands have been in any kind of contact with it.

It is probably also wise to avoid sharing towels, etc until it has cleared up.
posted by sindark at 5:07 PM on January 4, 2009

This thread is riddled with terribly incorrect advice, which is just another reason to see your regular doctor. Go see your regular doctor. You'll most likely have to wait weeks to see a dermatologist anyway. Most regular doctors should be able to diagnose impetigo. It's fairly common, and not necessarily caused by Group A Strep.
posted by gramcracker at 6:39 PM on January 4, 2009

Yes, see your regular doctor... mine diagnosed and treated my impetigo years ago. You don't need to see a dermatologist - impetigo is common enough to be seen regularly by family doctors. Also, please do get it treated... it's highly contagious.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:05 PM on January 4, 2009

thanks. I'll go to the doctor as now I'm freaked out (this'll learn me to post questions on the Internet). The situation is complicated by the fact that I'm on jury duty and don't know when I'll be released; I am geographically very close to my germ and rather far from my PC physician. I'll just see who can see me when I'm out of jury duty. thanks again.
posted by pipti at 9:36 AM on January 5, 2009

geographically very close to my DERM.
posted by pipti at 9:43 AM on January 5, 2009

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