Impetigo

Also known as: strep skin infection, staph skin infection.

What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a common, contagious bacterial skin infection that mostly occurs in infants and young children (2-5 years of age).

What causes impetigo? 

The bacteria staphylococcus and streptococcus are the two most common causes of impetigo (Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus - MRSA, is being more frequently found). A cut, scratch, bite or other injury causes a break in the skin which allows the bacteria present (from having touched someone infected or from things that they have touched, like towels or toys) to grow.

Other risk factors include; warm moist weather, and participation in contact sports.

What are the symptoms of impetigo? 

Impetigo usually begins as a red area or pimple-like sore (often on the face, around the mouth and nose, and hands and feet) which fill with pus and then burst and develop a honey colored/yellow brown crust. Touching an infected area allows it to spread to other parts of the body.

In some infants/children larger blisters may form (bullous impetigo), usually on the trunk.

A serious form of impetigo (ecthyma) can present as deeper fluid/pus filled sores that may turn into deep ulcers.

What are impetigo care options? 

Typical treatment is an antibiotic ointment or cream applied directly to the sore after warm water compresses have been applied to the area to remove scabs. Antibiotics by mouth may be recommended


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Reviewed by: Ana Margarita Duarte, MD

This page was last updated on: 3/23/2018 2:18:05 PM