What is impetigo?

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Impetigo is considered as highly spreadable skin disease that typically develops on the neck, face and hands of infants and young children. It is important to note that children who use diapers are likely to develop the condition around the diaper area. The skin disease rarely occurs in adults, usually after a different skin condition.

Impetigo is triggered by 2 types of bacteria – staphylococcus aureus and streptococcus pyogenes. The ideal treatment often varies on the responsible bacteria. The outlook for the condition is generally good and typically subsides within 2-3 weeks.

What are the types?

There are various types of impetigo with distinct causes and symptoms that sets each apart from one another.

Impetigo contagiosa

This is the most common form of impetigo that affects children and highly contagious. It usually starts with reddened sores around the mouth and nose. As these blisters burst, they leave behind a red, weeping rash that becomes crusted. The rash can be itchy but not painful. In addition, swollen lymph nodes can also occur.

Bullous impetigo

It is important to note that children who use diapers are likely to develop the condition around the diaper area.

This form typically affects children below 2 years old. The blisters typically manifest on the arms, torso and legs that might appear clear and then turn cloudy. These blisters tend to last longer and the surrounding area turns itchy and red.


This is the most severe form since it affects the second skin layer. The blisters tend to be painful and might turn into ulcers or open sores. In addition, swollen lymph nodes and scars can also develop.

Indications of impetigo

The symptoms of impetigo can be uncomfortable and embarrassing especially if present on the face. Even though the symptoms slightly vary from one type to another, they are similar and includes the following:

  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Reddened sores that readily pop and leaves behind a yellow crust
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Skin lesions
  • Itchy rash

What are the causes?

The condition develops once certain forms of bacteria infects the skin. Remember that this can occur in various ways such as the following:

  • Skin-to-skin contact with an individual with impetigo
  • Touching objects that have been used by an infected individual such as bedding, towels and toys
  • Skin injuries
  • Animal bites
  • Insect bites


The treatment for impetigo largely depends on the severity of the symptoms as well as the bacteria responsible. For a mild case, the doctor might recommend simple hygienic measures to allow the skin to heal and prevent the disease from spreading.

Home remedies

The affected area must be cleansed several times throughout the day with water or an antibacterial wash. The area should not be scrubbed while washing since this can further irritate the skin. After cleansing, pat the skin dry and apply an antibacterial or over-the-counter antibiotic ointment.

In case there are several scabs on the skin, soak the area to eliminate some of the scabbing and promote healing. You can soak the area in soapy water or solution of water and vinegar.

Avoid plucking at or touching the affected areas. A non-adhesive dressing can be used to minimize the spread of the disease. Make sure to wash hands thoroughly after contact with areas affected by impetigo.


If home measures are not effective or it is a severe case, the doctor might prescribe medications such as a topical antibiotic cream that is applied directly on the skin. It is vital to cleanse the skin prior to the application of the antibiotic cream so that the sores can be penetrated.

Oral antibiotics might also be prescribed that might be available in liquid form for children and pill form for adults. Whether the individual is prescribed oral or topical antibiotics, it is vital to complete the prescription to prevent the infection from recurring. If the regimen is stopped just because the symptoms have improved, it will only result to the recurrence of the infection and resistance to the antibiotic.

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