HealthBoards (
-   Infectious Diseases (
-   -   impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body? (

SlabTown40501 07-07-2017 07:29 PM

impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
i'm 25 years old and i was diagnosed with impetigo today (july 7th). First i had a painful canker sore on my tongue (july 4th) which made it very painful to eat. Then on july 5th, i woke up and i had an abrasion like thing on my lip and around my noise it was red and crusted yellow around my nostrils. Earlier this afternoon (july 7th), i ended up going to urgent care and the doctor said i had impetigo, and he wrote me up a prescription for antibiotic ointment (Mupirocin Ointment USP, 2%) and sent me on my way.

I still have some questions though!

1.) i read that impetigo is highly contagious. How contagious is it? i always wash my hands after i apply the ointment, and I don't touch the area at all, except when im putting the ointment on.
2.) how long can the impetigo bacteria live outside the body? like on surfaces such as towels or pillow cases?
3.) Do i really have to wash all my towels and pillow cases in hot water?
4.) how long will i be contagious for? i read that after 24 hours after the first treatment, impetigo is no longer contagious, is that true?
5.) I really need to shave my face, is it safe to do that while i have impetigo? I won't shave over the scabs at all, and i'll try my best to make sure the razor doesn't touch the areas. BUT would it be ok if i cleaned off the razors with some 91% or 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol?
6.) Does 91% or 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol kill the bacteria that causes impetigo on surfaces? (as in, if i sprayed my bed-sheets, pillow cases, shaving razors, and towels with rubbing alcohol, would it be ok then?

Please help!

yayagirl 07-08-2017 01:27 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
Dear SlabTown,

I'm sorry this happened. If you do what is needed, usually it will clear up in a few days. If it does not, go back to the doctor.

Rest assured that this is a common but extremely contagious infection and yes care needs to be taken but it can be managed. It is contagious until the sores are all healed. Don't touch or kiss anyone. Don't share anything until the doctor says you are well. YES, wash everything including your self with soapy hot water, rinse well and dry fabric items in a hot dryer, and so on. No, don't try to spray sanitize bedding or clothes, etc.

Here is expert information that can answer some of your questions

The very most important thing is that you use the medication as instructed until the sores are completely healed, use a cotton ball or gauze pad to apply the mediation, not your fingers, then wash hands with very warm soapy water and rinse well every time. Don't touch your face. Stay very clean and clean your bedding and clothes every day and wash down whatever you touch.

Don't shave until this is healed if you don't have to. If you do have to shave use disposable shavers and throw them away. If you have a job you should call in sick.

Thankfully this usually heals pretty fast, IF you do what is needed and do not reinfect yourself. You can get through this.

To avoid this happening again make sure to bathe often, don't share food or eating or drinking items; be careful who you kiss or hold hands with.

If you have a pet, don't handle it until you're well. If you did pet it, you will want to bathe it too.

SlabTown40501 07-08-2017 03:26 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
So rubbing alcohol won't kill the bacteria on surfaces? :( i didnt want to wash my stuff in hot water because they'll shrink and it'll ruin them :(

i thought it was only contagious threw the bacteria's fluid that leaks out of the sores.

Could i wash them in normal water? would that work. its already starting to clear up now on my noise. it never looked nearly as bad as the images ive seen online.

And also, i already shaved my face. my shaving razors are pretty pricey and i cant throw them away, but i did spray it down with some rubbing alcohol really good, would that kill the bacteria on it?

How long can the bacteria live on surfaces?

and why is it bad to spray sanitize? is it just because it's not effective?

Harri3t 07-08-2017 08:10 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
Impetigo can be caused by a few different bacteria including MRSA. How long they can live outside the body depends on conditions but under ideal conditions have been known to live for a couple of months outside the body.

Sanitizing depends on saturation and contact time. You also need to start with a clean surface to remove any debris like skin cells that the bacteria could feed on. Just spraying something like your bedding will not saturate the surface enough and it may dry long before the alcohol has time to work.

Towels, sheets, and pillow cases should be replaced daily. By that I mean to say that if you can't do laundry daily at least start with fresh towels and bedding each day. I've read that water needs only to be as hot as recommended on the clothing label. The important thing is that it is washed.

Spraying your razors won't sanitize them but immersion in a sanitizing liquid like the one used by barbers might.

SlabTown40501 07-08-2017 09:51 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
the bacteria can live outside the body for months? :( thats awful :(
ok, i guess i could wash my bedsheets in normal water. that should be enough to kill it. i hope.

what about letting my shaving razor soak in some rubbing alchohol for a couple minutes? would that do it?
How long do u think it would take for the alcohol to kill the bacteria?

Also, does wiping stuff down with sanitation wipes help?

and also, i read that rubbing alcohol can kill bacteria like staph in 10 seconds

And trust me, when i sprayed my pillow and sheets with rubbing alcohol i sprayed A LOT, and it took longer than 10 seconds to dissolve.
Do you still think it didnt work though? :(

yayagirl 07-08-2017 09:58 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
No, spraying is not safe or effective with this bacteria.

Think about movies where doctors are scrubbing with antibacterial solution before surgery...this is how seriously you need to approach cleaning your home, self, and possessions. You can probably call a pharmacy to ask about a surgical quality antibacterial agent.

The antibacterial must touch all of the surfaces. Spray misses some spots. No, rubbing alcohol won't do the job. Lysol disinfectant normally will work, but read the label and follow directions. Don't expect to just spray things. They must be soaked or wiped down with a solution of Lysol and water.

It is great that the bacteria seems to be responding to the antibiotics, but you definitely don't want that bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotics then get reinfected and have flesh-eating sores. You cannot go by 'looks'. This is a highly contagious bacteria. Esp. don't think of the sores as healing and get sloppy. They are still highly contagious, so make sure you don't expose anyone else to it.

When a bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics, that is very serious trouble.Yes it is the fluid of sores that carries the bacteria, but once it is on the skin it can be passed on to whatever is touched; also spread by a sneeze, brushing your hand on your face, etc. in ways we would not even notice. A toothbrush that touches a countertop, etc spreads the bacteria.

Make sure it is gone out of your car, home, off your wallet, glasses, and all other belongings. Make a solution of Lysol brand disinfectant and saturate then wring out a cloth so you can wipe everything down that you touch until your sores are all completely 100% healed - car door handles, radio knobs, TV control, phones, computer keyboard, light switches, sinks, counter tops, everything. Let those air dry. Rinse the cloth frequently in the lysol solution, while wiping things down.

For shrinkable cotton clothes you can try using warm water and plenty of Lysol disinfectant, then air dry them in a cool dryer or on a clothes line.

For your bedding, bath towels and dish towels, etc. use hot water and Lysol brand disinfectant as directed on the bottle.

For your razors can you throw away the blades and then soak them in a Lysol-water solution overnight (then rinse in hot water and air dry)? Do you have an old toothbrush you can use to scrub them then throw it away?

SlabTown40501 07-08-2017 10:11 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
it can live for months on surfaces?? that's awful! :(
ok, i guess i could wash them in normal water. that should be good enough.
What if i wipped my pillow cases and sheets and everything with clorox disinfecting wipes? it says on the contianer that they kill bacteria including Staph and MRSA

and when i sprayed my bedsheets, i sprayed A LOT of rubbing alcohol on them. it definately wouldnt have all dissolved in 10 seconds.
Do you guys still think it wouldve worked?

Sorry if i seem a bit argumentive, im just really overwhelmed by all of this :(

yayagirl 07-08-2017 10:33 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
No, hon, that is not a reliable news source. We can spray for cold & flu virus and get by with it. This isn't a virus that you are dealing with; cold and flu viruses don't normally create sores. This is a dangerous, easily spread and reinfecting bacteria.

I know it's overwhelming, but these are rather simple safety measures we all need to learn. It's why disease is easier to control nowadays when it used to kill hundreds and thousands at a time.

For impetigo bacteria, you need to put all of the bedding in a washing machine with water and liquid Lysol disinfectant to get into all of the fibers. If they are white items you can use liquid Clorox bleach. [B]Do not ever use Clorox bleach on furniture, carpet, etc. or on colored clothes. They will be ruined.[/B] So use a safe solution of Lysol disinfectant, and do not just spray it on. Also, after washing dry the bedding in a hot dryer.

Harri3t 07-08-2017 10:44 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
Like yaya, I don't consider that a reliable source of info. Also consider that before anything can be effectively sanitized, it must be clean and free of all dirt and debris. Used towels and bed linens that have come in close contact with skin may be full of dirt and dead skin cells that you may be unable to see. So, no. I don't think spraying with bleach or alcohol will effectively sanitize your linens and other items. Bleach residue on your linens and towels may also end up irritating your skin besides possibly damaging whatever you spray it on.

SlabTown40501 07-08-2017 10:45 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
ok :( im washing my clothes right now. i'll need to call my parents and see if they can get some antibacterial soap and laundry detergent for me :(
this is all very upsetting :( especially because tomorrow night i was supposed to be taking a road trip to visit my friend down south :(

and also, the doctor at urgent care diagonsed me with impetigo. he didnt take any cultures or samples or swabs. he just came in felt around the sores while he had gloves on and asked "does this hurt?" which none of it did, and he said it didnt look viral and he diagnosed with impetigo.

^it looks a lot better now, and it really seemed like it was going away on it's own before treatment but it's still not fully healed yet. the doctor just looked at it and thought it was, he didnt swab it or anything so i can't really know 100% for sure,

but what do you guys think?

yayagirl 07-08-2017 11:18 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
Dear SlabTown,

Trust the doctor. No culture is necessary; there are classic signs and symptoms. It doesn't mean you were dirty; it only means you were exposed, likely by someone that was out and about that didn't know he or she was contagious. Do some searches on the Mayo clinic website which has more info and is extremely reliable.

And now you do know, so yes, do delay your trip till your sores are completely healed and your home and surroundings have been treated. Just tell the friend you have to reschedule because you came down with something and don't want to spread it around.

This is an inconvenience but when taken care of you will be fine. It's good to learn how to take care of yourself properly and not be spreading things around.

This is just a normal part of growing up. :)

SlabTown40501 07-08-2017 11:20 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
I'm just curious, what has been your experience with impetigo? have you had it before?

Harri3t 07-08-2017 11:37 AM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
I pretty much agree with yaya. Trust your doctor. The fact that it's clearing with a topical antibiotic also makes it more likely this is a bacterial infection rather than a viral. Most sources say you are no longer contagious 24-48 hours after starting treatment but that said, from my personal point of view, if a guest appeared at my door with visible sores, contagious or not, I might not be the happiest host. Delaying your trip until your sores are healed could make it more likely you'll be invited back :).

As for where it came from. That depends. Many peoples' nostrils are colonized with the causative bacteria which causes no harm until conditions are right, such as lowered immunity or a break in the skin which provide good conditions for growth. This is particularly true of MRSA.

SlabTown40501 07-08-2017 12:09 PM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
well the sores are almost completely gone already. All i have right now is
[LIST=1][*]a scap on my lip (a dark purple/black scab like dried up blood) no yellow or anything on that[*]a small scab like patch under each of my nostril that's dried up. But it's more red and sensitive. absolutely no yellow or orange discharge comming out of it at all. [*]another scab on the side of one of my nostril that has just a VERY small bit of yellow in it (it's not oozing either, i put ointment on it and it's starting to heal up) the skin is just peeled away on it because it was very dry. [*]another scab on my upper nostril thats VERY VERY VERY small and red/crusted. [/LIST]

it really seemed like it was clearing up on it's own before treatment. I am washing my towels and bed sheets in hot water, because im able to.

I won't wash my clothes in hot water though because i don't want to ruin them, plus i didn't smear my nose all over my clothes anyway.

And also, the doctor didn't really make it out to be a big deal at all when i saw him at urgent care. He just told me it was impetigo and to put some ointment on it, and that it should be gone in 4-5 days (and it's been 2 days already since i've been using the ointment (july 7th & July 8th))

my parents also said it's barely noticeable and it'll clear up.

In addition to that, my mom told me that my oldest brother had impetigo on his face when he was a kid, and it just went away with the ointment after a couple days. they didnt freak out or anything.

However, i'm just curious, what has been your experiences with impetigo? have you guys ever had it or took care of anyone who had it?

Harri3t 07-08-2017 12:28 PM

Re: impetigo infection questions? How long can impetigo live outside the body?
One of my now adult kids had it as a child. It can clear up on its own without treatment but will heal faster if treated. You don't need to "freak out" but using common sense as it applies to contagious diseases can help stop the spread to others... and reinfection of yourself.

If you think you're almost clear of sores you could always call your friend and explain the situation. Let them decide how comfortable they'll be around you. With all due respect, IMHO, this should be their decision, not yours.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:52 AM.