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Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. It is usually caused by staphylococcal (staph) bacteria, but it can also be caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria. It is most common in children between the ages of two and six. It usually starts when bacteria get into a break in the skin, such as a cut, scratch, or insect bite.

Symptoms start with red or pimple-like sores surrounded by red skin. These sores can be anywhere, but usually they occur on your face, arms and legs. The sores fill with pus, then break open after a few days and form a thick crust. They are often itchy, but scratching them can spread the sores.

Impetigo can spread by contact with sores or nasal discharge from an infected person. You can treat impetigo with antibiotics.

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Symptoms of Impetigo

The following features are indicative of Impetigo:
  • red sores
  • itching
  • blisters
  • ulcers
  • pain
  • patches
  • rash
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • yellowish crusts

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Common Causes of Impetigo

The following are the most common causes of Impetigo:
  • staphylococcus bacteria
  • streptococcus bacteria
  • methicillin-resistant staph aureus infection

Risk Factors for Impetigo

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Impetigo:
  • children ages 2 to 5
  • crowded areas
  • warm or humid climate
  • sports that involve skin-to-skin contact such as wrestling or football
  • broken skin

Prevention of Impetigo

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Impetigo. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • do not share personal care products
  • wash hands thoroughly
  • avoid touching blisters
  • use antimicrobial soap
  • wash cuts and scrapes
  • maintain hygiene

Occurrence of Impetigo

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Impetigo cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Impetigo can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Impetigo can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Impetigo

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Impetigo:
  • Lab bacterial skin sample test: To determine if methicillin-resistant staph aureus is the cause
  • Physical examination: To test for impetigo

Doctor for Diagnosis of Impetigo

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Impetigo:
  • Dermatologist
  • Pediatrician

Complications of Impetigo if untreated

Yes, Impetigo causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Impetigo is left untreated:
  • spreading of infection to other body parts
  • kidney inflammation or failure
  • permanent skin damage
  • scarring

Self-care for Impetigo

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Impetigo:
  • Maintain skin hygiene: Use antimicrobial soap and keep skin clean and hygienic
  • Avoid sharing personal care products: Do not share personal care products with infected person
  • Maintain hand cleanliness: Wash hands thoroughly

Time for Treatment of Impetigo

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Impetigo to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Is Impetigo Infectious?

Yes, Impetigo is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • contact with infected person
  • contact with infected clothing, bed linen, towel and toys

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 4/30/2019.
This page provides information for Impetigo.

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