The Difference between Impetigo and Cellulitis

Many individuals wonder what the difference is between impetigo and cellulitis. The following useful information will help to differentiate the two skin conditions.


Impetigo is a condition of the skin that occurs on any exposed area of the body such as the face, hands, neck, or the nose and mouth. Most commonly, impetigo is caused by a staphylococcus bacteria, but a streptococcus bacteria could be the cause as well. A streptococcus bacteria may cause tiny blisters that may burst, but when it is caused by a staphylococcus bacteria, the blisters are usually large. Dry skin often forms along with crusts. Itchiness and infection may develop, sometimes spreading to other parts of the body.

Although impetigo will often clear on its own in 2 to 3 weeks, complications are still possible as is the risk for infection. A doctor should be contacted. Usually a child can resume activities and go to school again in as little as 24 hours if he has started taking antibiotics and is no longer contagious.


Cellulitis is a condition of the connective tissues causing severe inflammation of the skin. Red and swollen areas normally appear on the lower areas of the legs, but can also develop anywhere on the body such as on the face. Unlike impetigo, cellulitis is not contagious.

Cellulitis may only affect the outside layer of the skin, but it can also go deeper and affect the blood and lymph nodes. Medical studies show that one in 12 cases of cellulitis in children lead to meningitis. Unlike impetigo that may disappear on its own, cellulitis is considered an emergency medical condition; if cellulitis goes untreated, it can become dangerous with the possibility of causing death.

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