About impetigo

What is impetigo?

Impetigo facts

  • Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the surface of the skin.
  • Impetigo is more common in children than in adults.
  • The two types of impetigo are non-bullous and bullous impetigo.
  • Impetigo symptoms and signs include
    • small blisters,
    • dark or honey-colored crust that forms after the pustules burst.
  • Impetigo is contagious and is caused by strains of both staph and strep bacteria.
  • Impetigo is not serious and is easy to treat with either prescription topical or oral antibiotics. Scarring is very rare.

What are the symptoms for impetigo?

Often around the nose and mouth symptom was found in the impetigo condition

Classic signs and symptoms of impetigo involve red sores that quickly rupture, ooze for a few days and then form a yellowish-brown crust. The sores usually occur around the nose and mouth but can be spread to other areas of the body by fingers, clothing and towels. Itching and soreness are generally mild.

A less common form of the disorder, called bullous impetigo, may feature larger Blisters that occur on the trunk of infants and young children.

A more serious form of impetigo, called ecthyma, penetrates deeper into the skin — causing painful fluid- or pus-filled sores that turn into deep ulcers.

When to see a doctor

If you suspect that you or your child has impetigo, consult your family doctor, your child's pediatrician or a dermatologist.

What are the causes for impetigo?

You're exposed to the bacteria that cause impetigo when you come into contact with the sores of someone who's infected or with items they've touched — such as clothing, bed linen, towels and even toys.

What are the treatments for impetigo?

Impetigo typically is treated with an antibiotic ointment or cream that you apply directly to the sores. You may need to first soak the affected area in warm water or use wet compresses to help remove the scabs so the antibiotic can penetrate the skin.

If you have more than just a few impetigo sores, your doctor might recommend antibiotic drugs that can be taken by mouth. Be sure to finish the entire course of medication even if the sores are healed. This helps prevent the infection from recurring and makes antibiotic resistance less likely.

What are the risk factors for impetigo?

Factors that increase the risk of impetigo include:

  • Age. Impetigo most commonly occurs in children ages 2 to 5.
  • Crowded conditions. Impetigo spreads easily in schools and child care settings.
  • Warm, humid weather. Impetigo infections are more common in summer.
  • Certain sports. Participation in sports that involve skin-to-skin contact, such as football or wrestling, increases your risk of developing impetigo.
  • Broken skin. The bacteria that cause impetigo often enter your skin through a small skin injury, insect bite or rash.

Adults and people with diabetes or a weakened immune system are more likely to develop ecthyma.

Is there a cure/medications for impetigo?

Impetigo is a commonly transmitted skin infection. Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes infect the epidermis, or outer layers of the skin. The face, arms, and legs are the most commonly affected areas.
Impetigo can affect anyone, although it is more frequent in children, particularly those aged 2 to 5.
Minor cuts, bug bites, or a rash like eczema — any spot where the skin is damaged — are common entry points for the infection. It can, however, arise on healthy skin.

Cure and Medications

  • Impetigo can be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotic you receive is determined by how extensive or serious the lesions are.
  • Topical antibiotics are the ideal treatment if you have impetigo in a limited area of your skin. Mupirocin cream or ointment (Bactroban or Centany) and retapamulin ointment are two options (Altabax).
  • If impetigo is severe or extensive, doctor may advise to take oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin), specific cephalosporins and clindamycin (Cleocin).
  • These medications may work faster than topical antibiotics, but they are not necessarily more effective at clearing the illness.
  • Oral antibiotics can potentially produce greater side effects than topical antibiotics, such as nausea.
  • Impetigo typically cures in 7–10 days with treatment. Patients suffering from an underlying infection or skin disorder, it may take longer for the infection to heal.

Reddish sores, often around the nose and mouth,Honey-colored crust,Sores can spread to other areas of the body through touch, clothing and towels,Mild itching and soreness
Contagious skin infection,Bullous impetigo,Ecthyma
Amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin),Specific cephalosporins,Clindamycin (Cleocin)

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