Understanding Bacterial Skin Infections: Impetigo

Out of all the bacterial skin infections, impetigo is a very contagious skin infection that is most common in young children. Impetigo can cause itching and crusted sores usually appear around the mouth and nose. Impetigo is caused by the bacteria staphlococci, and in some cases streptococci. The infection may begin in a cut or an abrasion. Scratching and poor personal hygiene can lead to rapid spreading of the lesions. After the lesions have spread, they can spread from person to person, especially in young children attending school. There are three different types of impetigo.

Impetigo Contagiosa

Impetigo contagiosa is the most common type of impetigo. It will start as a small sore on the child's face, usually around the mouth or the nose. The sore usually erupts a pus-like substance within a couple of days, and then will dry out and become crusty. These sores are usually not painful, but they are very contagious. They can be transferred from one person to another just by scratching the lesion and touching someone else without washing the hands.

Bullous Impetigo

Bullous impetigo usually only affects children and infants under the age of two. The sores usually appear on the child's abdomen, legs and arms. The blisters it causes are painless, but can be itchy. They will erupt and also get crusty around the edges like impetigo contagiosa, but the blisters can last longer.


Ecthyma is the most serious type of impetigo. The blisters form deeper in the skin and they can be painful. The blisters can be pus filled and appear like an ulcer. These generally form on the legs and feet. If they are on the feet, they can be very painful to walk on. The sores can break open and cause sores, which can leave scars.


Treatment for impetigo will require a visit to the doctor's office. Your doctor will usually prescribe a topical antibiotic for you to rub on the affected area. In the most severe cases, an oral antibiotic can be prescribed. After you have started an antibiotic treatment, you will still be contagious for 24-hours. During this time, it is important to try not to affect any one else. The infection will usually clear up within a couple of weeks after treatment is started. If you suspect that your child has been infected with impetigo, it is best to get treatment before it can get worse and to prevent spreading.


Prevention of impetigo can be done by practicing good hygiene. Making sure you wash if you are touch be an affected person. Children need to especially be careful to not touch anyone infected with this. It is also important to make sure that any clothing that has touched the blisters is washed, including bedding or towels. If you apply ointment to the sores, make sure to wear rubber gloves to prevent spreading.

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that should not be left without treatment. If you think you or someone you know has developed impetigo, it is important to see a doctor for treatment.

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