Infections - Prevention, Diagnosis & Treatment

Impetigo: What are its Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment?

By S.I. (staff writer) , published on August 29, 2023

Medicine Telehealth Health infection bacteria lesions

What is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a common and highly contagious skin infection that primarily affects children, but can also occur in adults. It is characterized by red sores or blisters that can break open, ooze fluid, and form yellowish-brown crusts. [1]



What are the Symptoms of Impetigo?

Impetigo typically begins with the appearance of red sores around the mouth and nose. These sores quickly evolve into blisters that may burst and develop a honey-colored crust. Itching and pain may accompany the sores, and they can spread to other parts of the body through scratching or contact with the fluid from the blisters. Common symptoms of impetigo include:

  • Red sores or blisters [2]
  • Fluid-filled blisters that burst and form crusts
  • Itching and pain
  • Enlarged lymph nodes near the affected area



What are the Causes of Impetigo?

Impetigo is primarily caused by two types of bacteria: Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus [3]. These bacteria can enter the body through cuts, scrapes, or insect bites, leading to an infection. The infection is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected person or by touching contaminated objects, such as towels or toys.



Risk Factors of Impetigo:

Factors that increase the risk of developing impetigo include:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Crowded living conditions
  • Warm and humid weather
  • Skin conditions that cause breaks in the skin, such as eczema or insect bites



Treatment Options for Impetigo:

Prompt treatment is essential to control the spread of impetigo and prevent complications. The treatment approach may involve a combination of self-care measures and medical interventions.

Here are some common treatment options:

  1. Antibiotic Creams or Ointments: Topical antibiotics, such as mupirocin, fusidic acid, or retapamulin, are often prescribed to kill the bacteria on the skin and promote healing [4]. It's important to follow the prescribed dosage and apply the medication as directed.


  1. Oral Antibiotics: In more severe or widespread cases of impetigo, oral antibiotics may be necessary. Commonly prescribed antibiotics include penicillin, dicloxacillin, or cephalexin. It is crucial to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by the healthcare provider. [5]


  1. Keeping the Affected Area Clean: Gently washing the affected area with warm water and mild soap can help remove crusts and prevent the spread of infection. Avoid scrubbing the skin vigorously, as it can worsen the condition and lead to scarring.


  1. Good Hygiene Practices: To prevent the spread of impetigo, it is important to practice good hygiene. This includes regular handwashing, avoiding sharing personal items, and keeping the affected areas covered with clean dressings or bandages.


  1. Avoiding Scratching: Itching is a common symptom of impetigo, but scratching can further spread the infection. Trimming fingernails short and providing distractions or gentle reminders to avoid scratching can be helpful, especially for children.







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