AUGUSTA (WFXG) - Doctors Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department says they have been diagnosing and treating an increased number of children with a rash on the face, extremities, neck, and other areas of the body. 

The rash called, Impetigo is considered to be a highly contagious rash from a bacterial infection that can be worsened by wearing contaminated masks.

Dr. Rogelio Delacruz with Doctor's Hospital says, “In a way, the mask can protect you but if the person wearing the mask already has it, the humidity under the mask makes the bacterial grow more.”

According to Doctors Hospital, the rash will look something similar to a cigarette burn and contains a contagious honey-colored fluid.

“ Impetigo is a type of staph infection. So, it has to be treated early because if you don’t treat it early it can lead to a more serious infection.”

The infection is believed to be passed from other children and can be transmitted by touching. In the press release, officials say animals, like dogs and cats, can also acquire the bacteria and transmit it to children when an animal licks them on the face. 

While a mask can help provide a layer of protection from coronavirus, the facial coverings can cause a different type of problem. With kids returning to school, local doctors say children are at a heightened risk of contracting impetigo.

“I know some disposable face masks are expensive but if they can start wearing disposable face masks that would be more beneficial rather than wearing non-disposable because sometimes we forget to wash a face mask and tend to keep reusing them and if it was used by someone who has impetigo or the staff infection it can easily get the staff infection in their face," Dr. Delacruz says. 

After recently treating five children with cases of impetigo in mask-like patterns in a single day, Dr.  Delacruz is warning parents what to be on the lookout for.

"When children come home from school of course they need to wash their hands right away and then take off the face mask. They should be taught how to remove the facemask properly and make sure if it's a non disposable face mask, the facemask should be washed right away," he says.

It is important for children to regularly and properly wash their hands, parents, or guardians to decontaminate toys, cut nails short, and washcloth face mask.

Parents should seek medical attention immediately for their children as soon as they notice the development of a rash. The sore-like infection is highly contagious.

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