Impetigo - Editor's Choice

Over the years, Earth Clinic readers have sent us many reports about their treatments for Impetigo. The editors at Earth Clinic consider the below posts to be some of the most helpful and informative and have named them 'Editor's Choice'. We hope that you will find this useful.

Black Walnut

Posted by Eileen P. (Maine) on 06/29/2020
5 out of 5 stars

Black Walnut:

My son had Staph Impetigo rash cultured and diagnosed by his doctor, in his diaper region. I made a paste of powdered black walnut hulls, just with the powder and water, applied over the rash. Rash cleared up within 2 days, without need for the antibiotic ointment prescribed. I also gave him 1 drop of black walnut tincture a few times a day until the rash was gone.

Multiple Remedies

Posted by R Johnson (Atlanta, Ga) on 10/03/2017
5 out of 5 stars


Greetings. I feel compelled to share my harrowing journey about this dreadful temporary illness. About a month ago I noticed that I had a strange outbreak of eczema on my face, neck, and ears. I did everything I could to counteract it. I was going through a tremendous amount of stress as my youngest son was about to move into his own apartment and I was embarking on a whole new life of my own in another part of town.

On moving day I then noticed sores on both sides of my mouth. I was horrified and continued using essential oils, avoiding dairy and gluten, and whatever other things I could think of. Nothing worked. It eventually spread to two thirds of my entire face and I could barely open my mouth without it bleeding on the corners. I realized that I would have to miss work since I work in the schools. I went to the allopathic doctor and he had no clue. I talked to a holistic doctor over the phone later that day and he was convinced that I had shingles-and that although I couldn't remediate them I could possibly ease the symptoms to ride it out. I then scoured the internet and especially this website for remedies.

I tried cayenne pepper, L-lysine, vitamin C, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, and nothing worked to help ease the symptoms. For some reason my shingles were not behaving like all other people's shingles. They were only on my face (both sides) and itched like the devil. I resorted to wearing a hospital face mask in order to leave my house so that I would not scare the people. After a couple more doctor visits and being out of work another week I got another diagnosis. Impetigo!! I have now been out for my third week from work and I want to share what I am using to help out.

Now I will first state that nothing is worse than itching. Pain is a relief in comparison to itching and what I used gave me definite relief. Don't take my suggestions blindly. Take my word and research it yourself. Better yet pray or meditate on it to see if it resonates with you and your symptoms before implementing any of what I say. I went to the health food store and the woman working there was helpful enough to suggest that I get Bee Propolis (alcohol free) and Calendula Gel.

In addition to this, I purchased some good quality coconut oil. The coconut oil I had been using, although supposedly organic from the grocery store, was worthless. I also purchased some Colloidial Silver and Grapefruit Seed Extract pills.

In order to relieve the mind numbing itch I first take a shower with very warm water. This allows the crusted gross stuff that oozes out of your pores to be gently washed off. Do not use a wash cloth! Use only your hands and wash them right after you touch your face. Every time you touch the oozing skin to another you are spreading the disease and will get another outbreak. However, since it will itch like you've never itched before, this will be very soothing. Heat has a way of giving definite temporary relief. Also, I have noticed that it is mainly the dead skin and the dried up puss that is one of the main things causing the itch. After getting out of the shower do not use a towel on the affected areas. Use a hair dryer directly above it, being careful not to burn your skin. Again, the heat will soothe the itch and will make the oozing dry up faster. I then placed the propolis on first, then the coconut oil, then the calendula gel, being sure to wash my hands between each step. Expect it to sting, but this sensation will give definite relief. I did this every few hours or when the itching returned. There will still be some itching. My skin felt like ants were crawling under the surface of my skin and this is horrifying if you don't have things to distract yourself with.

Now unfortunately, I had to return to a doctor because after missing this much work things could really get ugly. The dermatologist prescribed an antibiotic, Cephalexin 500 (generic for Keflex) and I totally got wigged out. I've read so many horror stories about antibiotics it's ridiculous. So after doing some research I decided to take the antibiotic as prescribed BUT I do take it with decaffeinated green tea containing cayenne pepper. There have been studies that this will enhance it so that it actually works. I'm also cutting out sugars while taking it. Additionally, I'm also eating raw ginger in the mornings which will also kill the bacteria.

So I take the antibiotic four times a day, taking two grapefruit seed extract pills three times a day in between with my green tea mixture. I also am continuing the propolis, coconut oil, and calendula directly on the affected area. You could take a half dropper full of colloidal silver a couple times a day. Do not expect any of this to taste great. It will not, but it could give you the relief that you need. When I am done with my course of the antibiotic I will be taking a good quality probiotic. Taking an antibiotic with a probiotic only confuses the body and encourages bad results. Take it after the antibiotic and continue to eat high quality foods, cutting out sugar as much as you can. I will also take baths with apple cider vinegar to kill any possible yeast infections and eventually use raw aloe vera on my face.

I will be returning to work next week, thank goodness, because I finally look human again. I know this was a really long post but I hope and pray that it gives assistance to those in need. God Bless.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Posted by Trish (Mt) on 01/13/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I have been wanting to tell people about this because it is so insanely simple.. I was so stressed with my 2 year old daughter when she had impetigo around her mouth for months upon months. I tried EVERYTHING!! And it all came down to just 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and water (water because her skin was so sensitive at her young age) dabbed on her face with a cotton ball 2-3 times a day, it was gone within a day or 2.. I spent over $1000 on natural products as well as prescriptions I went to the naturopathic doctor to the regular doctor I washed the blankets, sheets, clothes and wiped the house clean daily and I finally just figured it out, THANK YOU!!!!

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Posted by Jj (Bournemouth, UK) on 01/12/2013
5 out of 5 stars

Hello, I'm so happy and relieved to say that Grapefruit Seed EXtract worked brilliantly to heal my impetigo!

I've never had impetigo before and I didn't know what it was. Initially I mistook it for a cold sore and treated it with cold sore treatments and antiviral pills, however, I did notice it was behaving differently to a cold sore and I was slightly puzzled.

Then one day, boom, the rash and blisters spread like wildfire across my whole chin, around my mouth, on my lips and cheeks. It was scary and incredibly painful, and the chills and fevers meant I couldn't sleep at night either, so I was exhausted too.

I was prescribed antibiotics by my doctor and on the 4th day of taking them my chin dried up BUT the rash continued to spread at a good pace up my face and on to my forehead. Most of my face was either covered in oozing blisters, heavy crust or burning like crazy. I couldn't open my mouth much either so it was very difficult to eat too. Straws and teaspoons became my best friends as I used them to eat and drink with.

Because the rash continued to spread I knew the antibiotics weren't fully working so basically I prayed for a miracle. That's when I stumbled on this webpage and the GSE comments really struck a chord with me. That day I went to a health food shop and luckily for me they sold the GSE pills (tub of 100 pills) and liquid so I bought both, along with a huge bottle of Aloe Vera Juice.

As soon as I started taking the GSE pills (2 pills, 3 times a day), that same evening really, I noticed the rash had stopped spreading. 2 or 3 times a day I gently patted my whole face with a mix of Aloe Vera Juice with drops of the GSE liquid, as I'd read on here that using the GSE liquid undiluted really burns, and I didn't want that. The Aloe Vera Juice really was great at cooling my face which was just so hot, burning and itchy. This is compared to say tea tree oil which I tried patting on my face at the beginning of my ordeal but it really did nothing for me.

During the next 5 days after I'd started taking the GSE pills and using the aloe and GSE liquid mix, the thick crusts dried and started falling off my face, and on the 6th day my face was completely clear of crusts! My face was really raw afterwards though, and I have some post inflammation hyperpigmentation (where the skin darkens from the inflammation) but this can be covered in makeup and will fade in good time.

I also used vitamin E oil after the crusts fell off to soften my skin again because it was really dry and flaky, despite drinking lots of water. I did finish my course of antibiotics too just in case. It also took a few days for the itchiness to completely disappear. During this time I made sure not to scratch anything and washed my hands if I touched my face.

Basically GSE worked wonders for me and I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who posted their stories here, as they really helped me and gave me hope. So I thought I'd post my story in the hope that it will also help someone else who is suffering.

If you can, please buy GSE pills and liquid as soon as possible. I will always have these pills with me now I know what impetigo is and how awful it can be. The infection is hugely challenging and my heart goes out to those reading this who have it, but thankfully it's a superficial infection and only effects the epidermis (outer skin layer) so it will heal fine. Good luck to all of you, and thanks again to the previous posters, I appreciate you sharing your stories! JJ

Grapefruit Seed Extract
Posted by Pigeongurl (Lowell, Mi) on 08/09/2012
5 out of 5 stars

YEA! I believe I've had impetigo before, but thought it to be poison ivy that was randomly spreading. This time, It happened after bathing the dogs. I had what appeared to be tiny flea bites all under my shorts and shirt. By the next morning I had even more and they began to itch relentlessly just like poison ivy! Rubbed hydrocortisone cream on which helped, but they grew bigger, more like a large mosquito bite with a tiny white head.

After a few days they'd calm down, but then new ones popped up. Couldn't figure out why fleas would go after me and no one else in the family, so next conclusion was an allergy to sunscreen. Spots seemed to pop out shortly after being outside in the sun and sweating. Seemed to last longer than at first. Still just mainly on my truck of my body. No face, arms or lower legs.

Then I made the mistake of shaving and trimming up my bikini area. Appearently this spread the impetigo to a very unpleasant region! Again, I had figured it was a simple allergy, nothing spreadable. When it spread down there, it got BAD. Large, blistering, itchy oozing sores that spread VERY quickly. I began to wonder if my husband had cheated on me and somehow given me herpes! But he didn't have any lesions, and only got 3 after intercourse with me (just before the spots popped out everywhere in my lower regions. No doubt this caused it to spread). After running through an entire list of possible STD's, rashes and ailments, I finally found info on impetigo.

By this time it had spread so badly in my "under region" that I could not even pee. Everything was badly swollen and infected. It looked and felt like %%%%! I was in AGONY! Tried cranberry juice to help, drank an entire jug in one day with NO relief!

Before finding this site, here's what I tried on my "bad" spots: hydrocortisone cream -didn't work.

  • over the counter menthol and spray anti-itch ointments -- burned VERY badly but numbed the area (didn't cure it)
  • Iveyrest Poison Ivy Cream: worked on the not so bad spots, kept it under control and dried lesions, but didn't keep new spots from developing, and hard to keep it dry "down there".
  • Triple Anti-Biotic Cream: didn't work.

****Remedies tried from this site and others I tried:

  • Vinegar: works well. Saturated a paper towel and held it on my bad spot areas. Burned slightly but vinegar is a natural bacteria killer. Seemed to help keep them from spreading when done twice a day (change underwear too! )
  • BATH: added epsom salt (about 1-2 cups) into warm bath with tea tree oil and crushed garlic cloves. Very soothing and a good way to wash gently.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: used as an antiseptic similar to vinegar. Burned less than vinegar, worked to dry spots out after shower/bath. May dry too much and cause scarring though...
  • TUMERIC (PILLS): Tumeric added to food at the rate of 1 tsp is harsh to eat. Tumeric pills are MUCH better! Take 3 pills 3 times a day. TUMERIC DID HELP!!! After 24 hrs on it I could pee with NO pain, and the swelling had gone down a lot. However the spots were still spreading and VERY itcy after 4 days of pills (took me FOREVER to locate Grapefruit Seed Extract)
  • GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT: BEST REMEDY! After just 12 hrs on the pills 3 times a day, I notced the spots fading away, and not so much itch. Spots stopped spreading and seem to be finally gone after 1 week of pills!
  • OLIVE OIL/GARLIC: For my itchy spots I poured 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil into a small dish and mashed a garlic clove and added it to oil. Used fork to mash it into oil more and release juices. Let sit 1 hr then apply with q-tip or cotton ball to spots. STOPS ITCH, STOPS SPREAD. This was a VERY SOOTHING treatment on my under-regions and despite the oil you didn't notice fealing greasy. Only soothed. Olive oil has healing properties and garlic is a natural sulphuric antibiotic.

BOTTOM LINE: Keep the olive oil/garlic always ready in the bathroom. When a spot pops up apply the mix to it and it will calm down and not spread.

Thank you thank you thank you for this site and ALL the helpful remedies!

Grapefruit Seed Extract
Posted by Meg (Vancouver, Wa) on 10/08/2010
5 out of 5 stars

I developed impetigo last year after a student of mine had it all over his face for weeks and frequently touched it with his hands. Not knowing what it was when I first had the outbreak I went to the doctor and was given a topical antibiotic. It worked but the ointment was sticky and took a long time to get rid of the rash/blisters. Then a few weeks later I got it again and I treated it the same way. This year as I returned to the classroom I was hit with impetigo within the first two weeks of school. I am not sure what (or who) the trigger was this year since I've been really good about keeping things disinfected and encouraging everyone to keep their hands clean (including myself). I have been told that once you have had impetigo you no longer have the antibodies to fight the staph infection and are more prone to getting them. I was not happy with the prospect of being written another prescription and turned to my favorite website (Earth Clinic- of course) to investigate a holistic cure. Sure enough, grapefruit seed extract caught my eye. By the time I obtained my bottle of GSE the impetigo had spread all over my chin and part of my jaw plus a few spots near my eyebrow and bridge of my nose and the sores were spreading quickly, were oozing and itched! I put the GSE onto the rash straight from the bottle and it made my skin itch like you wouldn't believe and turned it flame red within about 20 minutes. I had to wash it off and try mixing it with aloe instead. It still itched for a few minutes while it was soaking in and drying but wasn't nearly as intense as straight GSE did. I saw an improvement within about four days but the whole time I could tell that something positive was happening since the blisters were drying and the itching was quickly diminishing. The rash started peeling at that point and it took about 4 more days for it to be gone from my face. No drugs, no doctors.... Ahhh... What a relief! Unfortunately I started getting small blisters in several locations on my face and neck this week and one of them spread but luckily I was armed with GSE mixed with aloe and caught it before it got too out of control. This one only took 3 days total to go away instead of 7-8 last time when I didn't catch it as quickly. Because I seem to be getting these outbreaks more frequently and I know the embarrassing and uncomfortable effects of not catching it in time I am starting to take a few drops of GSE in juice every couple of days and also putting GSE in aloe on my face and neck several times a week just to keep me from having another outbreak. Thank you Earth Clinic!