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Impetigo – Treatment, Types, Causes and Symptoms

Impetigo is a very contagious skin infection that primarily affects newborns and young children. Staphylococcus bacteria are typically the reason for impetigo. It manifests itself as reddish sores on the face, particularly around the nose and mouth, as well as on the hands and feet. The lesions burst and produce honey-colored crusts after about a week.

Bullous impetigo, a less prevalent type of ailment, generates bigger blisters on the trunk of infants and young children. Ecthyma is a severe form of impetigo that results in painful, pus-filled lesions.

Overview

Minor cuts, bug bites, or a rash like eczema — any spot where the skin is broken — are common entry points for the infection. It can, however, appear on healthy skin. When it infects healthy skin, it’s called primary impetigo, and when it infects broken skin, it’s called secondary impetigo. 

Bacteria flourish in hot, humid environments. Impetigo is more seasonal, peaking in the summer and fall. It tends to happen all year in warm, humid settings.

One can contract impetigo by coming into contact with someone who has it and their sores, mucous, or nasal discharge. People can also spread impetigo through sharing personal goods with infected people, such as towels, clothing, and other personal objects.

Impetigo affects children between the ages of 2 and 6. It can also affect adults.

If any of the following is true, one might be at a higher risk of Contacting Impetigo:

  • Hot and humid summers and mild winters
  • Infected with scabies
  • Participating in activities or sports that are prone to cuts and scrapes
  • Living in close quarters or a crowded environment. 

Infections are common among people who live in the same residence as children who attend daycare.

What are the symptoms of impetigo?

Reddish lesions on the skin, frequently grouped around the nose and lips, are the earliest signs of impetigo. These sores quickly turn into blisters, which ooze and rupture, leaving a yellowish crust behind. The blister clusters may spread to cover a larger area of the skin. There are times when the red areas produce a yellowish crust without blisters.

Symptoms include:

  • A pus-filled blister or several blisters that burst readily, resulting in red, raw skin.
  • Itchy blisters with a yellow or tan fluid that oozes out and forms a crust.
  • A contagious rash.
  • Lips, nose, ears, arms, and legs have skin lesions (wounds). The lesions have the potential to spread to other areas of the body.
  • Lymph nodes are swollen near the diseased region.

If someone develops staph impetigo, they may notice the following symptoms:

  • Reddish skin surrounds red blisters, which are filled with fluids or pus and become hazy over time.
  • Blisters that easily burst and spill.
  • Raw, glossy regions with a yellow/brown crust that scabs over.

What are the types of impetigo?

Impetigo is classified into three categories based on the bacterium that causes it and the sores it causes. Each type goes through a progression.

Non-bullous

Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of non-bullous impetigo. It’s the most prevalent type of impetigo, accounting for approximately 70% of cases.

This condition progresses through certain stages as listed below:

  • It usually begins with a rash around the mouth and nose that is crimson and irritating.
  • When the sores burst open, the skin around them becomes red and inflamed.
  • It develops a brownish-yellow crust.
  • When the crusts cure, reddish spots appear, which disappear and do not leave scars.

Bullous

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria almost invariably cause bullous impetigo.

  • It commonly manifests itself as larger blisters or bullae filled with a clear fluid that might darken and cloud with time. The blisters aren’t surrounded by reddish patches and start on unbroken skin.
  • The blisters became limp and clear before bursting open.
  • Over the area where the blisters broke open, a brownish, crusty sore develops.
  • When blisters heal, they normally don’t leave any scars.

Ecthyma

This is a far more dangerous infection that is far less prevalent. When impetigo isn’t treated, this can happen. Ecthyma is more severe than other types of impetigo because it penetrates deeper into the skin.

  • On the buttocks, thighs, legs, ankles, and feet, the infection causes painful blisters.
  • The blisters become pus-filled ulcers with a thicker crust as time goes on.
  • The skin around the sores frequently become red.
  • Ecthyma sores take a long time to heal and may leave scars.

How is impetigo diagnosed by a doctor?

The doctor may search for sores on the face or body to identify impetigo. In most cases, lab testing isn’t required.

If the sores do not heal after antibiotic therapy, the doctor may examine a sample of the liquid produced by the sore. Pathologists can establish which bacteria is causing the ailment, which can aid in the selection of the appropriate medication. Certain antibiotics have developed resistance of some types of bacteria that cause impetigo.

Tell the doctor straight away if there is any blood or an unusual color in their urine.

What are the causes of impetigo?

A bacterial infection is the most common cause. A cut, scrape, rash, or insect bite is the most common way for germs to enter the skin.

The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”) is usually to blame. It is sometimes caused by Streptococcus group A bacteria. Strep throat and fever are also caused by these bacteria.

Glomerulonephritis can be caused by some types of strep bacteria that cause impetigo. High blood pressure and blood in the urine are two symptoms of this inflammatory kidney disease.

Staph bacteria can be found on the inside of certain people’s noses. If the bacteria travel to their skin, they may become sick.

Impetigo is more likely to affect adults and children if they:

What are the complications associated with impetigo?

Impetigo isn’t usually hazardous. In mild cases of the illness, the sores usually heal without scars.

Impetigo can cause the following issues in rare cases:

  • Cellulitis – This potentially fatal infection affects the tissues beneath the skin and has the potential to spread to the lymph nodes and bloodstream.
  • Problems with the kidneys – One of the microorganisms that cause impetigo can potentially cause kidney damage.
  • Scarring – Ecthyma sores can create scars if they aren’t treated properly.

What are the risk factors of impetigo?

Impetigo can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Age – Impetigo is most common in children between the ages of 2 and 5.
  • Proximity – Impetigo is easily disseminated within families, in crowded environments such as schools and child care facilities, and through skin-to-skin contact sports.
  • Hot and humid weather – Infections of impetigo are more likely to develop in hot and humid climates.
  • Broken skin – Impetigo bacteria usually enter the skin by a minor cut, insect bite, or rash.
  • Other medical issues – Impetigo is more common in children with other skin problems, such as atopic dermatitis (eczema). It is also more common in older folks, diabetics, and people with the weaker immune system.

Treatment for impetigo

The key to treating — and preventing — impetigo is to keep a clean environment and practice proper personal hygiene. Once the patient has contracted the virus, they will need to act quickly to keep it under control and prevent it from spreading further.

  • Maintain cleanliness: Even if only one family member has impetigo, everyone in the house should clean in the same way. Wash with soap and water regularly. This should aid in treating minor cases of infection. If this doesn’t work, the patient should see a doctor. They may need to take a prescription drug.
  • Topical antibiotics: Mupirocin ointment, which is only accessible by prescription, is effective in treating minor infections. To allow the antibiotic to reach the skin, soak the wounds in warm water first and gently remove any scabs. Antibacterial ointments sold over the counter are ineffective against strep and staph infections. The doctor will prescribe an antibiotic ointment for everyone in the home if there are frequent breakouts. It will kill the microorganisms in the nose.
  • Oral pills: If the patient has ecthyma or more than a few impetigo sores, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to take by mouth. Even if the sores have healed, make sure to finish the entire term of medication.

To kill the impetigo-causing bacteria, it’s is recommended to wash the towels separately in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer. Cover sores to prevent infection from spreading to other regions of the body or other person.

How long does it take to treat impetigo?

Impetigo can be contagious for weeks if not treated. The illness is infectious after commencing impetigo treatment until:

  • The rash goes away.
  • Scabs start to fall off.
  • Had antibiotics for at least two days.

How can you prevent impetigo?

Staying clean and healthy are the best strategies to avoid infection. Other impetigo prevention tips include:

  • Clean hands: If not soap or water, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Maintain proper hygiene: To avoid scratching, trim fingernails regularly. Sneeze into a tissue, then discard the tissue. Bathe children every day (or as often as possible), especially if they have eczema or sensitive skin.
  • Scratching should be avoided: Cuts and wounds should not be scratched. Keep the child from scratching if he or she receives a cut, itch, or wound.
  • Cuts, scratches, and injuries should be cleaned with soap and water, Apply an antibiotic lotion or ointment to the wound after that.
  • Isolate the kids: If the child has impetigo, isolate them from other children until their therapy is completed. They are not allowed to attend school or daycare.
  • Swimming pools and hot tubs should be avoided: If others come into contact with the child’s skin, swimsuit, or towel, the rash can spread.
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