What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the uppermost layers of the skin. It is most commonly caused by streptococcal or staphylococcal bacteria. Impetigo generally occurs when these bacteria enter the top layers of the skin through an abrasion or lesion and form an infection. While impetigo is most common in young children, primarily those living in unsanitary conditions, it is possible to develop impetigo as an adult.

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Impetigo can develop anywhere on the body, although it is most common on the extremities. It spreads easily through fluids that leak from blisters that form as part of the disease. Many people who have impetigo will develop a rash that is associated with the disease. Symptoms of impetigo usually begin within one to three days after infection.

Impetigo is fairly easily treated with topical or oral antibiotics. However, it may recur even after successful treatment, particularly in young patients.

Since the development of impetigo is an indication of a bacterial infection, you should seek prompt medical care if you experience any of the symptoms of impetigo, such as sores that contain pus; redness, warmth, or swelling; or an itchy rash. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), as these could be signs of a life-threatening condition.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of impetigo?

Symptoms of impetigo include blisters that may leak fluid, as well as itching and rash. These symptoms are relatively easy to spot and can aid your health care provider in identifying the disease and preparing an appropriate treatment plan.... Read more about impetigosymptoms

CAUSES

What causes impetigo?

Impetigo is caused by the infiltration of bacteria, usually Streptococcus or Staphylococcus, into the upper layers of your skin. These bacteria typically enter the skin through a lesion or abrasion, although you can develop impetigo through other kinds of injuries. Other common ways that the bacteria enter the skin include bite marks left by animals, insects, or other people.... Read more about impetigocauses

TREATMENTS

How is impetigo treated?

Since impetigo is caused by a bacterial infection, it is treated through the use of antibiotics. These antibiotics may be prescribed by a health care provider, and they may be administered either topically or orally.... Read more about impetigotreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases


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