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What is impetigo

What is impetigo

Impetigo is a general and contagious skin infection. Bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes infect the outer layers of skin, called the epidermis. The arms, face, and legs are most often affected.

Anyone can Suffer from impetigo, but most commonly affects children, especially those ages 2 to 5.

The infection often begins in minor cuts, insect bites, or a rash such as eczema — any place where the skin is broken. But it can also occur on healthy skin.

It’s called primary impetigo when it infects healthy skin and secondary impetigo when it occurs in broken skin. It isn’t always easy or necessary to make this distinction.

Impetigo is an old disease. The name dates back to 14th-century England and comes from the Latin word importer, meaning “to attack.” “Attack” seems a fitting description for this easily spread infection.

Bacteria thrive in hot, moist conditions. So impetigo tends to be seasonal, peaking in the summer and fall in northern climates. In warm and humid climates, it tends to occur year-round.

An estimated 162 million children trusted Source worldwide has impetigo at any one time. Impetigo is more common in developing countries and poor areas of industrial countries. The highest numbers of cases are in areas like Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries. It does not cause the phenomenon of uneven skin.

Causes

Impetigo is an infection caused by strains of staph or strep bacteria. These bacteria can get into your body through a break in the skin from a cut, scratch, insect bite, or rash. Then they can invade and colonize.

The condition can be contagious. You can catch these bacteria if you touch the sores of a person with impetigo or you touch items like towels, clothes, or sheets that the person used.

However, these bacteria are also common in our environment, and most people who come in contact with them won’t necessarily develop impetigo.

Some people normally carry staph bacteria on the inside of their nose. They may get infected if the bacteria spreads to their skin.

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Symptoms

The first signs of impetigo are reddish sores on the skin, often clustered around the nose and lips. These sores quickly grow into blisters, ooze and burst, and then form a yellowish crust. The clusters of blisters may expand to cover more of the skin. Sometimes the red spots just develop a yellowish crust without any blisters being seen.

The sores can be itchy and occasionally painful. After the crust phase, they form red marks that fade without leaving scars.

Infants sometimes have a less common type of impetigo, with larger blisters around the diaper area or in skin folds. These fluid-filled blisters soon burst, leaving a scaly rim called a collarette.

Impetigo can be uncomfortable. Occasionally, it may involve swollen glands in the area of the outbreak or a fever.

Treatment of impetigo

Antibiotics are effective against impetigo. Which type of antibiotic you get depends on how widespread or severe the blisters are.

If you have impetigo in only a small area of your skin, topical antibiotics are the preferred treatment. Options include mupirocin cream or ointment (Bactroban or Centany) and retapamulin ointment (Altabax).

If your impetigo is severe or widespread, your doctor can prescribe oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin), certain cephalosporins, or clindamycin (Cleocin). These drugs may work more quickly than topical antibiotics, but they aren’t necessarily better at clearing the infection.

Oral antibiotics can also cause more side effects than topical antibiotics, such as nausea.

With treatment, impetigo usually heals in 7 to 10 days. If you have an underlying infection or skin disease, the infection may take longer to heal.

Treatment of impetigo

Antibiotics are effective against impetigo. Which type of antibiotic you get depends on how widespread or severe the blisters are.

If you have impetigo in only a small area of your skin, topical antibiotics are the preferred treatment. Options include mupirocin cream or ointment (Bactroban or Centany) and retapamulin ointment (Altabax).

If your impetigo is severe or widespread, your doctor can prescribe oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin/clavulanate (Augmentin), certain cephalosporins, or clindamycin (Cleocin). These drugs may work more quickly than topical antibiotics, but they aren’t necessarily better at clearing the infection.

Oral antibiotics can also cause more side effects than topical antibiotics, such as nausea.

With treatment, impetigo usually heals in 7 to 10 days. If you have an underlying infection or skin disease, the infection may take longer to heal.