Impetigo is a skin illness that affects the surface layers of the skin. It is most common in children between the ages of 2 and 6.

Causes of Impetigo

Staphylococcus (staph) bacteria usually cause impetigo. Group A streptococcus bacteria can also cause it (strep). Impetigo is caused when this bacteria enters a cut, scratch or insect bite and causes infection.

How Does Impetigo Spread?

Direct contact with lesions (wounds or sores) or nasal discharge from an infected person spreads the virus. Scratching the lesions may spread them. It normally takes 1 to 3 days for symptoms to appear after infection.

On healthy skin, germs cannot cause an infection. For it to infect, there must be open cracks or wounds.

Impetigo Signs and Symptoms

The appearance of red or pimple-like lesions surrounded by reddish skin is the first symptom.

These sores can form on any part of your body, but they're most common on the face, arms and legs. The lesions fill with pus, then break open and create a thick crust after a few days. Itching is a common occurrence.

By examining the skin lesions, your doctor can determine whether or not you have an infection.

Treatment for Impetigo

The treatment prescribed is usually determined by the severity of the problem.

  • Topical antibiotics may help with mild impetigo.
  • Oral antibiotics may be required in more severe cases.
  • Applying warm, wet washcloths to moist or crusty areas will help keep the lesion clean and prevent it from spreading. Other people should not use these washcloths until they have been washed in hot, soapy water.
  • Close contact with others should be avoided and children should stay at home until the crusted lesions have dried.


While impetigo lesions heal slowly, scar development is uncommon. In addition, recurrent episodes of impetigo are common in young children.



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