Impetigo Overview & Definition:

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection. It can spread from one person to another person very easily. The skin infection can affect children including infants. Children between 2 years and 5 years old are prone to be affected by impetigo. Even though the skin infection is not serious, there might be some complications as well. The impetigo can be overcome with the topical antibiotics. It can be overcome without medication and it will take 2 to 4 weeks. 10% of the infants will suffer from impetigo.

When the infection affects the healthy skin, it is called as primary impetigo. If it takes place on a broken skin, it is called as secondary impetigo. If there are open sores, they are highly contagious. The infection can spread from one place on the skin to another place. It can also spread to another person very easily through touch.

If there are red sores around the nose and mouth of your child, he could suffer from impetigo. The impetigo will be healed on its own in most of the cases. In some cases, the sores may appear anywhere on the body. The sores are more prominent on the face of children. Sometimes, they come upon legs and arms also.

Impetigo Symptoms:

-  In most of the patients, the legs, arms and face will be affected by the bacterial skin infection

-  The infection will start with minor cuts or insect bites or rash (eczema).

-  The infection will spread very easily from one person to another person.

-  A person suffering from impetigo will experience reddish spots on the skin. The spots are more prominent in the nose and lips region. It is one of the first signs in infected persons.

-  The sores formed due to a bacterial infection will grow into blisters. The blisters will ooze and burst and it will lead to the formation of a yellow crust. Blisters will cover most of your skin and the crusts will appear in the colour of honey.

-  The sores are itchy and there will be occasional pain as well.

-  After the formation of the crust, red marks are formed and no scars are formed

-  In infants, the blisters are found around the diaper area or in skin folds

-  Patients will be uncomforting due to impetigo

-  If the  impetigo is severe, it will lead to fever and swollen glands

-  Itchy red blisters are common in people suffering from impetigo

-  Impetigo contagiosa (Nonbullous impetigo) is caused by Staphylococcus aureus. 70% of the patients do suffer from this kind of impetigo. The condition will start with the formation of reddish spots and they will convert into reddish blisters which appear around mouth and nose. The size of blisters will be in between 1 and 2 centimetres in diameter.

-  The patient suffering from Nonbullous impetigo will have itching sensation and pain. After the formation of crusts, reddish spots will develop and no scar formation will take place.

-  Staphylococcus aureus will lead to the formation of Bullous impetigo. There will be the formation of large size blisters and the blisters will be clear. The size of the blisters will be around 2 centimetres in diameter. Blisters will develop in the unbroken skin. Blisters will burst open and yellowish crust formation takes place.

-  Bullous impetigo is the most common type of impetigo experienced in infants. They appear in the diaper region and neck folds. In other age groups, the blisters will appear on arms, legs, and trunk.

Impetigo Causes:

-  If a person comes in contact with infected person, the bacterial skin infection, impetigo will spread

-  The bacterial infection is due to Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes

-  The infection will begin at the broken place on the skin and it will spread to healthy skin as well

-  The infection will spread very easily and it is called ‘school disease’. As children will be in close contact at daycare centres and primary schools, it may spread very quickly.

-  The skin and inner membrane of the nose contain useful bacteria. The bacteria will protect you from disease-causing bacteria. However, the bacteria can enter through the cuts or scratches.

-  The bacteria can colonize and cause infection on normal skin as well. After the colonization of the bacteria, impetigo blisters appear.

-  The spread of bacteria will be quick through the poor hygiene.

-  The disease-causing bacteria will multiply in hot humid weather

-  The impetigo will spread quickly in close crowded conditions

-  People living in warm and humid climatic conditions will pose a high risk

-  The risk is high in people undergoing dialysis

-  If you have sunburns or other kinds of burns, the impetigo can spread very easily

-  The insect bites will also lead to the spread of infection

-  People with compromised immune systems are affected very easily

-  If the severity of impetigo is high, it will affect the deeper layers of the skin and the form of impetigo is called ecthyma.

-  If your child has body lice, fungal infections or eczema, he is more likely to be affected with impetigo.

How to diagnosed  Impetigo?

-  If you suspect impetigo symptoms, you should visit the doctor.

-  The doctor will diagnose the condition by the appearance.

-  If the condition is severe, the doctor will recommend a culture test.

-  Impetigo is diagnosed through the clinical appearance and it is a straightforward method

-  Medical evaluation and culture tests are done to figure out the right kind of medication. In some patients, topical antibiotics will deliver the best results. However, stubborn impetigo should be treated by offering oral antibiotics. If a patient goes for oral antibiotics, there will be many side effects.

-  The sensitivity tests and culture tests are helpful in finding out the right kind of oral antibiotic for the patient.

Impetigo prevention  :

-  The clothes, bedding, towel, toys and playing equipment used by an infected person should disinfect so that it will not spread to other persons

-  As the bacteria can thrive in hot and moist conditions, extreme care should be taken to prevent close contact with the affected persons. If there are warm and humid climatic conditions, the infection can spread throughout the year.

-  Impetigo can be healed by using home treatment. The cleaning and soaking methods will help you in this direction.

-  You can clean and soak 3 times per day to expect better results. After treating the soars, you should wash your hands thoroughly.

-  Before and after removing the crusts, you should clean the sores with warm and soapy water. By removing the crusts on regular basis, the infection can be arrested.

-  After cleaning the sores, the skin should be dried and antibiotic ointment should be applied to overcome the condition.

-  The sore should be covered with bandage or gauze after cleaning the area

-  Children should stay at home until the impetigo is non-contagious

-  Adults should abstain from work for a duration suggested by the doctor

-  The skin bacteria can be eliminated by washing hands on a regular basis and taking bath at regular intervals

-  Prevention and spread of impetigo can be accomplished through a routine hand wash with soap and warm water.

Impetigo Treatment:

-  It is possible to treat topical impetigo in few days by using antibiotics. Antibiotics will heal and stop the spread of the infection.

-  Impetigo can be healed in one week to 10 days. The treatment will take longer period if you have an underlying condition.

-  By taking the treatment for impetigo, the healing process will be quickened.

-  The treatment is based on the spread of the infection or the number of blisters

-  By using topical antibiotics, there will be healing in 5 to 7 days. Specific topical antibiotics are mupirocin and fusidic acid.

-  If the infection is severe, oral antibiotics are offered to the patient. Oral antibiotics work quickly than topical antibiotics.

-  The oral antibiotics which deliver the best results include amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin), anti-staphylococcal penicillins and macrolides.

-  If a person is suffering from mile impetigo, it can be overcome by cleaning the sores and removing the crusts. The prescribed antibiotic should be applied to overcome the situation.

-  If there is widespread impetigo such as bullous impetigo, it can be overcome with an oral antibiotic.

-  There will be the complete recovery of the skin after treating the impetigo with antibiotics.

-  If the diagnosis is very accurate, there will be a great response to the treatment. The patient will not suffer from major complications and the disease can be controlled in a few days.

-  A primary care doctor can deal with impetigo. The skin condition should be evaluated on a regular basis and the treatment will be offered as per the condition of the patient.

-  Patients should consult a specialist in infectious diseases if there is no response after using the standard antibiotics.

Complications of Impetigo:

It is very rare to experience complications of impetigo. However, they are very severe and should be handled diligently and quickly by experienced doctors.

-  Oral antibiotics pose more side effects than topical antibiotics.

-  Some patients suffer from antibiotic-resistant staph and it will be a big challenge for doctors in treating impetigo.

-  The complications in adults are higher than in children

-  1 to 5% of the patients suffering from nonbullous impetigo will be affected by acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. It is a serious disease where the inflammation of the small blood vessels in the kidneys will take place.

-  Cellulitis is a serious infection in which the tissues under the skin will be affected. The infection may spread the bloodstream as well.

-  Some people suffer from rare scarlet fever which is a bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus pyogenes

-  Children and adults may be affected with guttate psoriasis after contacting the skin infection.

-  Treating impetigo with antibiotics pose risk to the health as there will be side effects. If a person is suffering from severe impetigo, it can lead to the inflammation of vessels in the kidney.

Some Myths Of Impetigo

Myth #1: There is no requirement to protect skin wounds

The wounds on the skin and bruise should be protected. The bacteria will spread very quickly from one person to another person by coming in contact with the affected area. Hence, open sores should not be touched or scratched.

Myth #2: Impetigo is not prevalent among adults

Impetigo will affect children including infants very quickly. However, there is no exception for adults. It can spread very easily and affect all age groups regardless of the sex

Myth #3: Impetigo will not spread through clothing

Impetigo will spread primarily through touch. However, it can spread through the bedding, clothing, toys, sports equipment and other accessories used by affected people.

Myth #4: Impetigo will not spread on the skin

Impetigo will start at one location on the skin and it will spread to other parts as well.

Myth #5: Every sore or blister is impetigo

You should not consider every sore or blister as impetigo. Skin infections such as scabies and tinea are different from impetigo.

Myth #6: Impetigo will leave scars

As impetigo is superficial, there will not be any scar after healing the skin. The affected skin will appear in red colour after the loss of crusts. The red colour will fade gradually over a period of time. In a few weeks, there will be complete healing and you may want to apply the sunscreen lotion as well.


Impetigo is a contagious bacterial skin infection which affects all age groups. It mostly affects children and the spread of the infection is very quick in schools, daycare centres and play areas. Rash, small blisters, honey-coloured crust are the common symptoms of impetigo. By undergoing the bacterial treatment, it is possible to overcome the infection. The infection will spread through the strains of staph as well as strep bacteria. By using prescription treatment either oral or topical, the infection can be controlled.

Last updated on : 20-09-2018

Disclaimer : Docprime doesn’t endorse or take any guarantee of the accuracy or completeness of information provided under this article and these are the views strictly of the writer. Docprime shall not be held responsible for any aspect of healthcare services administered with the information provided on this article.

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