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Impetigo vs Cold sore

impetigo vs cold sore

A simple rash or red spot on your skin may already be a severe infection. Although there are a lot of skin conditions identified nowadays, understanding the severity of these conditions is necessary. Is the painful lesion on your skin impetigo? Or is it already a fever blister identified as a cold sore?

In this article, you will learn impetigo vs cold sore. These differences include their causes, symptoms, and treatment.


Difference between impetigo vs cold sore

Impetigo is a skin infection that typically appears on the arms and limbs. Although it affects anyone, this condition is common in young children between 2 – 5 years old. It is caused by two highly contagious bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes.

The bacteria spread via shared items, such as towels, bed sheets, and clothing. If an infected individual fails to wash their hands, transmission is lightning fast. It also explains why the case is high in children, as they are more susceptible due to the amount of things they touch.

Impetigo appears as red blisters that sometimes turn brown. It spreads faster than a cold sore. Although it can look painful visually, it’s all bark and not as much bite and the pain is bearable. It does not cause discomfort and can heal on its own. It can happen anywhere in the body compared to cold sores that only appear on the face.


Cold sore vs impetigo

The highest leverage that impetigo has over a cold sore is that it has a cure. If impetigo is found early, antibiotics treatment can heal the infection within a week. There are two options to cure impetigo – topical or oral antibiotics. Whatever option is most accessible and comfortable for you is going to be the most efficient.

On the other hand, cold sores are an infection involving the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes simplex virus, namely HSV-1 and HSV-2. People who have HSV-1 are those who develop fever blisters or cold sores around their mouth.

Cold sores spread via kissing, oral sex, sharing drinks and eating utensils. They are contagious and cause a lot of discomfort. They are also very noticeable, as one blister can be huge enough for others to see. Although cold sores heal independently, using antiviral drugs to suppress the virus speeds up the recovery time.

Compared to impetigo, cold sores have no cure. That also explains why outbreaks happen. The only role that antiviral drugs play is to lessen the effects of herpes symptoms and reduce recurrent episodes. After treatment, the virus hibernates within the body and waits until a weakened immune system reactivates it. The antiviral drugs used for treating cold sores include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir.


Impetigo vs herpes

One of the main differences of impetigo compared to herpes is the source of infection. As mentioned, a bacterial infection triggers impetigo. On the other hand, the herpes simplex virus causes herpes to emerge. Although they are both skin infections, the form of transmission for both these infections also differ.

In terms of the affected population, impetigo is more common in infants and children. Meanwhile, herpes occurs in infants, children, and more commonly, adults. Impetigo has two types, namely bulbous impetigo and ecthyma. Herpes, on the other hand, has oral herpes and genital herpes.

Despite many differences, these infections can become severe without proper treatment. If your skin is irritated and becomes damaged, it becomes susceptible to these infections. Ask your doctor right away and learn how to treat these conditions properly.


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