Indian Fire Rash

Indian fire rash refers to a skin infection that is extremely contagious and mostly occurring in children and infants. It is commonly seen as reddish sores on the face, particularly near the mouth and nose of the affected person. Even though, Indian fire rash is primarily caused due to entry of bacteria in to the body via scratches or insect stings, it can also appear on normal, healthy skin. The condition is also called impetigo.

Indian fire rash rarely leads to complications and generally disappears on its own in 2 to 3 weeks. However, since the disease is vulnerable to becoming serious, the doctor may recommend treatment with topical or oral antibiotics

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In most cases, the affected child can go back to school once he/she is no longer contagious, which is usually within a day of commencing antibiotic treatment.

Symptoms of Indian fire rash

Some of the signs and symptoms of Indian fire rash are as follows:

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  • Reddish sores which are prone to rapid rupture, oozing fluids for some days and then crusting into a yellowish-brown layer
  • Blisters that are filled with fluids, but do not cause pain
  • Itchiness
  • Severe cases of Indian fire rash may elicit painful, pus or fluid-filled sores that later become deep ulcers

Types of Indian fire rash/impetigo

  • Impetigo contagiosa: It is also called nonbullous impetigo. It is the most common types of Indian fire rash. It begins as a reddish sore on the face, commonly near the mouth and nose. The sores burst quickly and ooze pus or fluids, later crusting over. They are not painful, but can cause itchiness. The crust ultimately clears off and a reddish spot is left which also heals without leaving scars. Fever is absent in most cases, but swelling of the lymph nodes in the affected regions may be observed. Due to the elevated contagious nature of the condition, even slight scratching or touching of the sores can lead to migration of the infection to other areas of the body.
  • Ecthyma: It is a severe type of Indian fire rash and can affect the dermis, i.e. the second layer of skin. Pus or fluid-filled, painful blisters may appear mostly on the feet and legs. Such blisters can experience ulceration. The sores tend to puncture and develop a gray-yellow, thickened, solid scab. Healing of the sores can result in scarring. Swelling of the lymph nodes in the affected region may also be observed.
  • Bullous impetigo: It is majorly noticed in children and infants below 2 years of age. Fluid-filled, painless blisters generally appear on the legs, torso and arms. The skin adjacent to the blister experiences redness and itchiness, but not soreness. The blisters can be tiny or big, tend to rupture and crust into a yellowish scab, and have the tendency to last for longer durations as compared to other types of Indian fire rash


  • Indian fire rash is caused due to infection by two types of bacteria, i.e. Staphylococcus aureus, which is most widespread, and Streptococcus pyogenes. Both the kinds of bacteria tend to reside on the skin without causing harm, until they enter the body via a wound or a cut and result in an infection
  • Adults are generally affected by Indian fire rash due to a trauma to the skin, in most cases due to an underlying presence of another skin condition like dermatitis. Children usually get infected due to an insect bite or due to presence of a scratch or a cur on the skin. However, Indian fire rash in children can also occur without any significant injury on the skin.
  • The staph bacteria make a harmful chemical that aids the spread of Indian fire rash to adjacent skin. The toxin works by attacking a protein which perform the function of holding skin cells together. Damage of this protein subsequently helps in rapid spread of the bacteria
  • One can come into contact with the causative bacteria of Indian fire rash via direct contact with the sores of an infected individuals, or via indirect transfer of the infection due to contact with contaminated materials such as apparels, towels, bed sheets, toys, etc.
  • Indian fire rash can affect people of all ages. However, infants and children in the age group of 2 to 6 years are commonly affected. Children are more vulnerable to the disease due to underdeveloped immune systems. It may also be noted that strep and staph bacteria tend to thrive in conditions involving close contact of groups of people, and hence Indian fire rash is more prevalent in child care centers and schools

Treatment of Indian fire rash

  • Mild cases of Indian fire rash may only require engaging in good hygienic measures, such as keeping the infected skin areas cleaner than usual.
  • Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with a pint of water and soak the affected areas of the skin for about 20 minutes. This facilitates easier removal of the scabs.
  • After washing the infected areas, tap it dry and apply an over the counter topical antibiotic at least 3 times a day.  Use of a non stick dressing can help in avoiding spread of the infection
  • Prescription oral and topical antibiotics may be recommended by the doctor for those cases of Indian fire rash that do not respond positively to changes in overall hygiene.

Indian fire rash pictures

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