- Impetigo: A Wrestler’s Story
- How to Avoid Oral Antibiotics for Impetigo
- Antibacterial Options for Impetigo on the Skin
- Rebalancing the Skin while Fighting Impetigo
- Natural Anti-Pathogenic Options for Internal Use
- Homeopathy for Impetigo?
Wrestling turned out to be the gift that kept on giving.
My son was only a wrestler for two seasons. But he got everything wrestling could give, and some of it lasted for months.
Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that mostly seems to be common in toddlers, preschoolers, and wrestlers. Anyone can get it, however, and while I’m very grateful, I have no idea how the rest of the family never got it from my teenage wrestler. The skin-to-skin contact in wrestling makes the sport an active breeding ground for skin infections. Ick.
RELATED: If you’re a wrestling parent, check out these healthy ways to cut weight for wrestling.
Impetigo: A Wrestler’s Story
Wrestling turned out to be not a favorite sport for my son, Paul, for many reasons, potentially including daily practices over Christmas break, when he really likes to kick back and have nothing on the calendar. At some point at one of those ill-fated practices, something was passed via the mats from a teammate to Paul.
The first week of January, he pulled up the hair over his forehead and said, “What do you think this is?” He had a little blemish no bigger than a dime. And I thought, acne? Rugburn? Allergic reaction?
“What did you do, son? Do you remember scraping your head on anything?” He’s a boy. So he had no idea.
We got another really vital clue the next day when it had doubled in size. That’s no rug burn. The following day, his entire forehead was practically enveloped.
The gift of wrestling also includes ringworm, which of COURSE Paul got. In case you need a comparison photo, this is what ringworm looks like (also very contagious but fungal):
And just for kicks (and because I myself will now be referencing this post every time my kids get a new “skin thing”), here’s poison ivy for reference:
We’ve dealt with plenty of skin issues at the Kimball House over the years, from eczema to hives to poison ivy that would not quit to cellulitis. Of course, immediately, I had begun putting salve and clay on Paul’s forehead. But without knowing what we were dealing with, I was probably using the wrong weapons, and they were not enough.
To compress the story for you, we got it under control with natural, plant- and earth-based solutions, but ended up having to resort to a topical antibiotic cream, simply so that he could get back into wrestling. And then it just never quite went away.
Six months later, when Paul traveled to Florida to visit friends, the moist environment there made it all come back. I picked him up from the airport, and his face was a mess along with all of his appendages. You get the picture.
I had been determined in the winter not to resort to oral antibiotics because of their gut-destroying properties. I knew that we could beat this thing in an integrative style with the topical prescription cream and everything I could throw at it.
Ultimately, we did get the “gift of wrestling” under control and hopefully, Paul’s skin microbiome and gut microbiome are in much better shape because we were diligent. I’m very stubborn when it comes to antibiotics, and Paul is the only one of my children who has ever had a single prescription.
Want to know what we did?
How to Avoid Oral Antibiotics for Impetigo
I took a philosophy much like one would for a candida infection or parasites: kill, starve, rebuild – although a lot less on the “starve,” because I didn’t feel this problem was internal, hence my resistance to oral antibiotics.
Let’s talk about these four categories:
- external killers
- internal killers
- external balancing
- internal balancing
Antibacterial Options for Impetigo on the Skin
I already shared that we did use a topical antibiotic cream, but both of us will tell you that it was just one tool in our arsenal, and it certainly didn’t act like the final grenade or nuclear attack. I feel it made very similar progress compared to what we had already been doing. Here’s what Paul alternated as many times a day as he could remember.
Gentle bacteria-fighting essential oil roll-on
In two teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, I put the following:
My goal was 5% tea tree oil, and this is the less powerful version of everything I could find on the Internet and in my essential oil books for a bacterial skin infection such as impetigo.
Stronger bacterial fighting essential oil roll-on
The reason I wanted to use both was so that the impetigo bacteria didn’t get complacent. Basically, if you are constantly hitting a pathogen with the same thing, you may end up with some resistance. So we alternated back and forth as much as possible.
We also used hydrated Redmond clay from time to time, because clay has adsorptive properties. I hoped it would pull out some of the pathogens and also allow Paul’s skin to dry up and stop being such a lovely breeding ground for the bad guys.
What we didn’t try but I have on hand for next time
As I did more research, I found a few recommendations that I would have gladly included in our arsenal.
Dr. Axe says to dab apple cider vinegar on the blisters. I know this is incredibly helpful for poison ivy, so why not? However, if your child is young, I would try a tiny dot on a less-sensitive area, because ACV has the potential to really burn.
Healthline.com recommended green tea on the blisters or a turmeric poultice. Again, both have fantastic antioxidant properties, and when you’re trying to get rid of what my son would call the “rash of doom” that never goes away, it’s worth trying everything.
Rebalancing the Skin while Fighting Impetigo
I felt it was important to rebalance Paul’s skin microbiome since all of those strategies above had the potential to throw his natural flora out of balance. Perhaps his natural flora was slightly unbalanced already, making him extremely susceptible to a bad case of impetigo. In any case, I wanted to do my best to get him back to normal.
We mixed half a powdered probiotic capsule (we have lots around, but Just Thrive is a good example) with a bit of filtered water in a very clean jar or spray bottle. At least an hour or two apart from any of the “killer” topical treatments, Paul could dab or spray his rash with probiotic water. You need to keep this in the refrigerator, because it will go sour quickly, in only about two days. That’s the nature of living probiotics after they get moist.
Come to think of it, what a great way to make sure your probiotics are living! I learned this technique from a great video on teenage acne made by the founder of Seeking Health, Dr. Ben Lynch. Speaking of Seeking Health, they have my favorite prices on just about every supplement we purchase. From our D3 + K2 for the whole family to Optimal Magnesium and other forms of magnesium for the adults, chewable magnesium for kids, and more.
Natural Anti-Pathogenic Options for Internal Use
I figured if conventional medicine would recommend an oral antibiotic for a skin infection, I could fight the same fight with what I already had in my cabinet. Here are the various options I gave Paul from time to time.
- TriLight Health BactaMune
- Biocidin (we only had the drops at the time, but now they make some excellent sprays, and I would have used this externally if I had thought of it)
- Olive leaf extract, because we had some on hand from gut healing diet protocol
- Oil of oregano capsules, same as above.
Internal Rebalancing for the Gut when Fighting Impetigo
We always take probiotics, but I’m not a daily regular perfectionist when it comes to my kids. When Paul was fighting this, we stepped up our game. You can read this post about all the different probiotics we have on hand in our house. I made sure that Paul got quite a variety focusing as much as possible on JustThrive and Seed, because they strike me as the most research-based and powerful.
Homeopathy for Impetigo?
Homeopathy is an internal solution, but it’s neither a killer nor a builder. The idea of homeopathy is that it rebalances your system to help you fight what’s out there, and most homeopaths say that once you kick something with homeopathy, it shouldn’t really come back.
I didn’t take a homeopathy class until the fall of the year that Paul had this impetigo struggle, so it wasn’t something that we used as well as we should have, especially at the very beginning. I send you over to Joette Calabrese for her Banerji protocol.
Be sure to note that practical homeopathy is taken daily or twice daily for at least three to four weeks before making the decision about whether it’s working or not. It’s working if your symptoms are mitigating and heading in the right direction. For easy links to buy all the pieces of the protocol here you go:
Bottom line, you can get rid of impetigo without antibiotics. Whether you have a wrestler, a daycare kid, or an outlier, my hope is that you never need to figure out how to get rid of impetigo naturally. However, if you’re this far down in the post, you probably need everything I’ve shared. My final thoughts for you are these:
- I would not have used the prescription antibiotic if it wasn’t necessary for Paul to be allowed back into the sport he had already worked so hard for.
- Fight from all angles, topically and internally, with both killers and builders.
- Use as many options as you can think of so that you keep those little bacteria surprised and on their way out.
- Stay clean. Make sure the child is bathing or showering and not sharing towels or clothes with other members of the family. As I said no one else in our house got anything; so even though the Internet says it’s highly contagious, I think that’s only in certain circumstances.
- Use probiotics no matter what. We know that the balance of our own microbiome, both skin and gut, plays a role and perhaps determines what is able to infect us. Take care of your terrain.
As for our family, our new protocol to avoid impetigo and avoid antibiotics is no more wrestling. Paul’s a pole vaulter now. Instead of rolling around on mats, he falls onto a mat with a pole. Dear Lord, please let him not get impetigo again! 😉