Medical Author : John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Medical Editor : William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
- 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 is impetigo? What causes impetigo?
What are the types of impetigo? What are impetigo symptoms and signs? What does impetigo look like?
There are two forms of impetigo:
- Non-bullous impetigo: This is the more common form, caused by both staph and strep bacteria. This form initially presents as small red papules similar to insect bites. These lesions rapidly evolve to small blisters and then to pustules that finally scab over with a characteristic honey-colored crust. This entire process usually takes several days. These lesions often start around the nose and on the face, but less frequently they may also affect the arms and legs. At times, there may be non-tender but swollen lymph nodes (glands) nearby.
- Bullous impetigo: This form of impetigo is caused only by staph bacteria. These bacteria produce a toxin that reduces cell-to-cell stickiness (adhesion) causing separation between the top skin layer (epidermis) and the lower layer (dermis). This leads to the formation of a blister. (The medical term for blister is bulla.) Bullae can appear in various skin areas, especially the buttocks and trunk. These blisters are fragile and contain a clear yellow-colored fluid. The bullae are delicate and often break and leave red, raw skin with a ragged edge. A dark crust will commonly develop during the final stages of development. With healing, this crust will resolve.
Is impetigo contagious?
How is impetigo diagnosed?
What is the treatment for impetigo?
What are possible complications of impetigo?
One potentially serious, but rare, complication of impetigo caused by strep bacteria is glomerulonephritis, a condition producing kidney inflammation. Many specialists are not convinced that treating impetigo will prevent glomerulonephritis from occurring.
Will impetigo leave scars?
Because the crusts and blisters of impetigo are superficial, impetigo generally does not leave scars. Affected skin looks red for a while after the crusts go away, but this redness fades in a matter of days to weeks.
Can impetigo be prevented?
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