Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that primarily affects infants and children. This bacterial skin infection causes sores and blisters on the face, neck, hands, and diaper area. It’s often caused by two types of bacteria, Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus.

There are two types of impetigo: nonbullous impetigo, which causes sores that quickly rupture, leaving a yellow-brown crust, and bullous impetigo, which causes larger fluid-filled blisters that may look clear, then become cloudy. These blisters are more likely to stay longer on the skin without bursting.

Impetigo is highly contagious and can spread to others through close contact or by sharing towels, sheets, clothing, toys, or other items. Treatment typically involves antibiotics, which can be applied as an ointment or taken orally. It’s recommended that affected areas be cleaned gently with mild soap and water, and then applying the antibiotic ointment as prescribed by the doctor.


Causes of Impetigo

Impetigo is a skin infection usually caused by bacteria, specifically:

1. Staphylococcus aureus: Also known as staph, this is one of the most common bacteria to cause impetigo. In some cases, it produces a toxin that causes a more serious type of impetigo known as bullous impetigo.

2. Streptococcus pyogenes: Also known as strep, this is the second most common cause of impetigo. It’s also responsible for several other infections such as strep throat, scarlet fever, and pneumonia in some cases.

Impetigo often starts when these bacteria enter the body through a cut, insect bite, or areas of skin irritation or damage. It’s more common in children, particularly those aged two to five years old. The condition is contagious and can be spread through close contact, shared towels or bedding, or by scratching the affected area and then touching other parts of the body or other people.

Risk factors for impetigo include poor hygiene, warm and humid weather, having skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis that cause breaks in the skin, and attending daycare or school where close contact with children makes the disease more easily spread.

Risk Factors of Impetigo

Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that mainly affects infants and children. It often appears as red sores on the face, especially around the child’s nose and mouth, and on hands and feet. The following are the risk factors for impetigo:

1. Age: The most important risk factor for impetigo is age. The infection can affect anyone, but it most commonly affects children between the ages of 2 to 5.

2. Warm and humid weather: The bacteria that cause impetigo often thrive in warm and humid conditions. Therefore, impetigo is more common in tropical regions and during the summer in temperate climates.

3. Close contact: Impetigo can be easily transmitted through direct contact with the sores of someone who has the infection, or indirectly through contact with items they’ve touched – like clothing, bed linen, towels, toys, or gym equipment, so it’s more common in crowded environments.

4. Skin-to-skin contact: Impetigo can spread in places where there is close skin-to-skin contact, such as schools and childcare centers.

5. Breaking the skin: The bacteria that cause impetigo can also enter through broken skin caused by other skin conditions like eczema, scabies, herpes, chickenpox, and insect bites.

6. Weak immune system: People with weakened immune systems are more at risk of developing skin infections, including impetigo.

7. Participation in activities that involve skin contact: Impetigo can also spread among adults when there is skin-to-skin contact, such as while playing sports.

8. Poor hygiene: Not taking a bath or shower daily or infrequent hand washing can also pose a risk for impetigo.

These risk factors don’t necessarily mean a person will get impetigo. However, being aware of them can help in taking preventive measures to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the condition.

Signs and Symptoms of Impetigo

Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that often affects infants and children. Key signs and symptoms of impetigo include:

1. Red Sores: They often pop up on the face, especially around the child’s nose and mouth, but can be spread to other areas of the body through touch.

2. Fluid-Filled Blisters: These sores quickly erupt to form honey-colored crusts due to pus or a cloudy fluid. They usually aren’t painful, but they may be itchy.

3. Rash or Skin Lesions: There might be the appearance of a rash or skin lesions that rupture, ooze fluid and then form a honey-colored crust.

4. Itching and Soreness: There can be itching in the affected area which can lead to the spread of the infection.

5. Swollen Lymph Nodes: Swelling in nearby lymph nodes is often observed.

6. Reddish Skin: The skin surrounding the sores or blisters may appear red.

The signs and symptoms of impetigo can vary based on the specific type of Impetigo:

1. Non-bullous impetigo, the most common type, causes sores that quickly rupture to form a yellowish-brown crust.
2. Bullous impetigo causes larger, painless, fluid-filled blisters that take longer to burst, and it’s most common in babies and young children.

In any case, it is important to seek medical attention if one suspects impetigo to prevent spreading the infection to others and to receive the appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis Impetigo

Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that mainly affects infants and children. The infection is usually caused by staphylococcus (staph) or streptococcus (strep) bacteria, but it can also be caused by other types of bacteria on the skin or from a wound or insect bite that has become infected.

There are two types of impetigo: non-bullous impetigo and bullous impetigo. Non-bullous impetigo is more common and causes sores that quickly rupture, leaving a yellow-brown crust. Bullous impetigo, which is caused by a different strain of bacteria, causes large, painless, fluid-filled blisters.

Symptoms usually present as red sores or blisters on the face, especially around the child’s nose and mouth, and on the hands and feet. These sores eventually burst and develop honey-colored crusts.

Diagnosis is usually based on the characteristic appearance of the rash and clinical symptoms. In some cases, doctors may take a swab of the infected skin to test for bacteria.

Impetigo is typically treated with antibiotics and it is important to maintain good personal hygiene to avoid spreading the infection.

Treatment of Impetigo

Impetigo is an infectious skin condition caused by bacteria, either Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus. Treatment for impetigo typically involves antibiotics to fight the bacterial infection.

1. Topical Antibiotics: For mild cases, the doctor might prescribe a mupirocin cream or ointment to be applied directly onto the skin lesions. The infected area should be cleaned and dried before applying the medication, which may need to be put on the rash several times a day for several days.

2. Oral Antibiotics: In more severe cases, or when the impetigo has spread to various parts of the body, oral antibiotics may be prescribed. These may be taken as pills or a liquid for a course of one to two weeks, depending on the severity of the infection.

3. Hygiene: It’s important to maintain good hygiene to avoid spreading the infection. Wash the affected areas gently with mild soap and water and cover them with a light gauze dressing if possible. Ensure that the person with impetigo uses their own towels, bed linen, and clothing, which should be washed regularly.

4. Skin care: Over-the-counter remedies, such as gentle creams and ointments, might soothe the itching typically associated with impetigo.

5. Rest and Fluids: Rest is useful in general when the body is fighting an infection. Stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet to support your immune system.

It’s important to complete the full course of prescribed antibiotics even if the symptoms improve in order to prevent the infection from coming back or getting worse. If the impetigo has not improved after 7 days, or if it becomes worse, the individual should contact their healthcare provider.

Note that this information is meant to be informative and does not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options.

Medications commonly used for Impetigo

Impetigo is a common skin infection typically caused by Staphylococcus (staph) or Streptococcus (strep) bacteria. The medications commonly used for its treatment involve both topical and oral antibiotics.

1. Topical Antibiotics: These are applied directly to the skin and include:

Mupirocin (Bactroban): This is often the first type of treatment prescribed for impetigo. It should be applied three times a day for 1-2 weeks.

Fusidic acid: This is also a topical antibiotic, often used if Mupirocin is not effective.

2. Oral Antibiotics: These are used if the infection is widespread or if the topical antibiotics do not provide adequate treatment. They may also be the preferred treatment if there are multiple infected people in a household or group to try and reduce the potential for further spread.

Flucloxacillin: This antibiotic is commonly used in many countries for impetigo. It needs to be taken four times a day for 7 days.

Amoxicillin and clavulanate: This is a broad-spectrum antibiotic often used for several bacterial infections, including impetigo.

Cephalexin (Keflex): This is another oral antibiotic that can be used for treatment.

These are some of the commonly used antibiotics. Still, always make sure to take them according to the medical prescription (correct dosage and duration) to avoid antibiotic resistance or unnecessary side effects. It’s important to finish the prescribed course, even if the sores seem to have cleared up, to make sure the bacteria have been fully eliminated.

Prevention of Impetigo

Impetigo is a contagious skin infection that primarily affects infants and children, causing sores and blisters. Here are a few ways to prevent impetigo:

1. Good Hygiene: Regular and thorough handwashing can help prevent the spread of the bacteria that cause impetigo. Infected individuals should also avoid touching or scratching their sores.

2. Clean Wounds: Clean and disinfect any cuts, scratches, or insect bites immediately and thoroughly to prevent the bacteria from entering the skin and causing an infection.

3. Personal Items: Infected individuals should not share their personal items like towels, sheets, clothes, toys, or sports equipment to prevent the spread of infection.

4. Isolate Infected Persons: Impetigo is highly contagious. If a family member is infected, try to isolate them as much as possible to prevent the spread of bacteria. Don’t let them share beds, linens, or towels with other family members.

5. Avoid Close Contact: Try to avoid close physical contact with a person who is infected with impetigo until they are no longer contagious.

6. Follow Doctor’s Orders: If you’ve been diagnosed with impetigo, it is important to follow all the doctor’s orders. Complete all prescribed antibiotics even if symptoms have improved.


Remember, if you suspect impetigo, it’s important to seek medical advice to get accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

FAQ’s about Impetigo

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that primarily affects infants and children. It often appears as red sores on the face, especially around a child’s nose and mouth, and on hands and feet. These sores can easily burst and develop a honey-colored crust.

Here are some frequently asked questions about impetigo:

1. What causes impetigo?
Impetigo is caused by two types of bacteria: streptococcus pyogenes and staphylococcus aureus. It often enters the body through a break in the skin, such as a cut, scratch, or insect bite.

2. How is impetigo spread?
Impetigo is highly contagious and can be spread through close contact with an infected individual or by sharing items like towels, toys, clothing, or bedding.

3. What are the symptoms of impetigo?
Signs and symptoms of impetigo include red sores that burst and develop a honey-colored crust, blisters filled with fluid that rupture and ooze, and itchy rash.

4. Can adults get impetigo?
Yes, while impetigo is more common in children, adults can also get it. Adults with a weakened immune system, diabetes, or a skin condition are more at risk.

5. How is impetigo treated?
Impetigo is usually treated with topical or oral antibiotics. The infected area should also be cleaned daily with mild soap and water.

6. How can I prevent impetigo?
Good hygiene can help prevent impetigo. This includes washing hands frequently, keeping nails trimmed, refraining from scratching any sores or insect bites, and avoiding close contact with someone who has impetigo.

7. How long does impetigo last?
With treatment, impetigo usually heals in 7 to 10 days. If left untreated, it can last longer and lead to complications.

Remember that if you or your child might have impetigo, it’s important to see a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Useful links

Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that mainly affects infants and children. Impetigo usually appears as red sores on the face, especially around a child’s nose and mouth, and on hands and feet. These sores burst and develop honey-colored crusts.

Research and review articles are available that provide in-depth discussion on Impetigo. Here are some potentially helpful links from medical and scientific journals:


Remember that while these articles are reputable, they are intended for informative purposes only. Please seek professional medical advice for diagnosis and treatment of impetigo.

Complications of Impetigo

Impetigo is a common and contagious skin infection that mainly affects infants and children. This condition typically presents as red sores on the face, especially around a child’s nose and mouth.

Although impetigo is usually a minor illness, it can lead to certain complications if it’s not treated, including:

1. Skin Infections: Ignored or untreated, impetigo can lead to deeper skin infections known as cellulitis. This can potentially be severe and requires strong antibiotics.

2. Scarring: While impetigo sores usually heal without leaving a mark, sometimes they might cause scarring, especially in the case of ecthyma (a more serious form of impetigo that penetrates deeper into the skin).

3. Kidney problems: One of the more serious complications of impetigo can be kidney inflammation (post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis), which usually follows streptococcal infections. This complication is rare but may require medical attention.

4. Impetigo contagiosa: This most common type of impetigo can cause large, painful blisters and can potentially lead to complications.

5. Septicemia: In rare cases, the bacteria causing impetigo can enter the bloodstream and lead to septicemia, also known as blood poisoning. This is a serious condition that can be life-threatening.

6. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus): This is a type of staph bacteria that’s immune to certain antibiotics. If MRSA occurs, it can lead to serious skin infections and other health problems.

7. Infection spread: If the patient picks or scratches the sores, the infection can potentially spread to other parts of their body or to other individuals.

Remember, early detection and treatment can help prevent the development of these complications. If symptoms of impetigo are noticed, it’s crucial to seek medical advice promptly.

Home remedies of Impetigo

Impetigo is a contagious skin infection that mostly affects children, caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes.

Here are some home remedies which can aid in healing impetigo, in addition to medical treatment prescribed by your doctor:

1. Garlic: Thanks to its antibacterial properties, garlic can help in treating impetigo. You can crush garlic cloves, apply the paste on the affected area, leave it on for few hours and then wash off.

2. Grapefruit seed extract: Mix a few drops of grapefruit seed extract with two tablespoons of water and apply this mixture to the affected area with a cotton ball. This can help in speeding up the healing process.

3. Tea Tree Oil: Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba oil) and apply it to the affected area. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties that can help in fighting off the infection.

4. Honey: Apply raw honey on the infected area, let it sit for a few hours, and then rinse it off. Honey has natural antibacterial properties which can aid in healing impetigo.

5. Vinegar: Clean the affected area with a mix of one part of white vinegar and four parts of water. This can help in preventing the bacteria from spreading.

6. Heat Therapy: Apply a warm compress to the affected areas to alleviate discomfort and promote healing.

7. Aloe Vera: Apply aloe vera gel on the infection. Aloe vera has antibacterial properties and can soothe the skin.

8. Coconut Oil: It’s a natural antibacterial and antiviral agent that can be directly applied to the skin.

It’s important to note, however, that these treatments should complement, not replace, professional medical advice and medication. Always consult with your healthcare provider before using any alternative treatments for impetigo. And remember, impetigo is highly contagious, so make sure to keep the affected area covered to prevent spreading the infection to others.

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Skin Care,

Last Update: January 3, 2024