What Is Impetigo – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Updated: 10/31/2019

Impetigo is a contagious bacterial infection which occurs at every age but normally seen in children much more than in adults. This article will show you what is impetigo, it causes, symptoms, and how to prevent it.  All the information of this article is illustrated on Beauty Talk; so hopefully, this information can help you enhance more useful knowledge about health.

I. What Is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a type of a superficial skin infection. Because of being a contagious skin disease, it is easily spread the sores from one skin area to another area by scratching or maybe from one person to another by close contact or sharing the same towels, clothing, toys, and other items. As mentioned above, impetigo mostly regularly occurs in children at the age from two and five years, however, sometimes it is also observed in older children and adults.

Normally, impetigo is also classified as three variants consisting of bullous, non-bullous impetigo and ecthyma. 

II. Causes Of Impetigo

Do you know the reasons for impetigo come from? Impetigo is occasionally caused in the skin sites by two types of bacteria, including Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus[1]. Those types of bacteria are normally harmless on human skin.

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Occasionally, there are two types of impetigo including primary impetigo and secondary impetigo.

  • Primary impetigo:The sites of intact skin are directly invaded by bacteria. Pyoderma and impetigo contagiosa are two other synonyms for primary impetigo.
  • Secondary impetigo:Impetigo is observed in the areas of already damaged skin such as insect bites, minor trauma, chickenpox, burns or abrasions. These invasions in minor trauma are also known as impetiginization.

Here are a few specific causes of impetigo:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Army barrack
  • Warm and humid environments
  • Infected from sharing towels, clothing, touching or even close contacts with a person having impetigo
  • Insect or animal bites
III. Symptoms Of Impetigo

After reading about what is impetigo and its causes, now it is high time for you to realize the impetigo’s symptoms. Regularly, from four to ten days of bacteria exposure, the symptoms already appear. Thus, in this period, the patients who have impetigo do not know whether they have or not, leading to the easy infection from a person to another.

The doctors can easily diagnose whether a person has impetigo or no through several common symptoms below:

  • Small blisters
  • Red sores and leave easily a yellow, dark or honey-colored crust
  • Itchy rash
  • Skin lesions
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Those symptoms mainly develop on the surroundings of skin sites on nose, eyes, mouth for children. It can be observed in other parts of the body such as the trunk, legs, arms with large blisters.

As mentioned before, impetigo can be divided into three types including non-bullous, bullous and ecthyma impetigo[2].

  • Non-bullous impetigo:

Impetigo contagiosa is another name of non-bullous impetigo which makes up for 70% of all common cases. It is known as the most common type of impetigo when lesion starts with papules and then develops to vesicles which are surrounded by erythema. Later on, these lesions become pustules that ooze either pus or fluids. As the results of this exposure process, it will leave a thick, yellow crust with the appearance of golden characteristics. Non-bullous impetigo seems to be much itchy even though it does not make patients painful so the patients should not touch or scratch to avoid spreading to other sites of the skin surface. In some severe cases, patients may suffer from a fever.

  • Bullous impetigo:

Bullous impetigo is one type of impetigo, which is commonly observed in babies and young children. The symptoms are often medium to large fluid blisters which happen on the trunks, legs, and arms. The blisters in skin layers are red and itchy, which easily spread quickly and even burst. As a result of this evolution, patients may find several yellow crusts. Like non-bullous impetigo, patients with bullous type do not suffer painfully; however, itching is very common and a lot. Thus, it is very important to try not to scratch or even touch the crusts. Both bullous and non-bullous impetigo do not leave any scars on the skin surface.

  • Ecthyma:

It is a different variant of impetigo that starts from non-bullous impetigo; however, it can affect more deeply than two left types. Seriously, ecthyma can affect to the second skin layer not just on the top layer.

IV. Treatment

The treatment of impetigo depends on the types of impetigo and its severe levels. To deal with the symptoms of impetigo by speeding up the healing process, improving the skin situation, avoiding complications, it is highly recommended that patients should be provided three main treatments including mild infections, topical antibiotics, and oral antibiotics[3] [4].

Firstly, mild infections are one of the most important steps in the treatment process. Doctors highly recommend the patients to keep their skin clean related to hygiene factors.

Secondly, topical antibiotics can be applied directly to the affected skin areas. The patients can be prescribed with mupirocin ointment. It is very important to wash and dry the scabs before applying antibiotics, so this type of treatment can get into the skin layers easily.

Thirdly, when the patients do not respond to topical antibiotics, it is highly advised to use oral antibiotics in the form of the liquid for children or pill for adults.

V. Prevention Tips

Having good hygiene can obviously prevent impetigo by keep doing three main habits often:

  • Wash your hand often
  • Take a bath or shower regularly
  • Keep your injuries clean and be covered

After reading this article, hopefully, you can gain more knowledge about what is impetigo, its causes, symptoms, treatments and prevention. Now it is time for all of us to say goodbye impetigo. If you are interested in such types of articles, you can come and read on our main Health page. Please feel free to raise any questions or comments at the bottom of this article.

Read more: 18 Best Treatments For Fever Blisters. This article was medically reviewed/fact checked by Julie Freeman, MA, RD, LD, RYT.

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