What is Impetigo, treatment, symptoms, prevention and more


What is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a bacterial, infectious and contagious skin disease. It usually develops in children, being one of the most common childhood dermatoses, but adults can also develop it. The disease is characterized by reddish wounds that have a yellowish fluid. When the wounds burst, a yellow / brown crust forms around the lesion.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), impetigo is more common in developing countries, usually due to the lack of hygiene in them. According to the Canadian Public Health Agency, more than 100 million people are diagnosed with the disease annually.

What are the causes? And the transmission, how does it happen?

Our skin is inhabited by several microorganisms, including those that cause impetigo. In the case of this disease, two bacteria are the cause: Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus .

For the disease to develop, it is necessary for these bacteria to enter our skin and this happens through a small wound, cut or even a mosquito bite. The bacterium’s incubation time is 1 to 10 days and they are transmitted as follows:

  • Streptococcus pyogenes : through direct contact with the lesions.
  • Staphylococcus aureus:  through contact with lesions and contaminated objects.

Risk factors

As much as anyone can develop the disease, it must be emphasized that some risk factors contribute to this happening. Check out what they are:

  • Age: impetigo happens mainly in children from 2 to 5 years old.
  • Overcrowding: the disease spreads more easily in places that have a large number of children (eg schools and daycare centers).
  • Humid weather: infections like Impetigo are more common to occur in the summer.
  • Contact sports: participation in contact sports, such as football, increases the risk of transmission of Impetigo.
  • Injured skin: bacteria that cause impetigo enter your skin through small lesions.
  • Compromised immune system: elderly people or people with diabetes , for example, are more likely to develop the disease.

Types and symptoms of Impetigo

There are 3 cataloged types of impetigo and, below, you will know what they are and what symptoms each one presents.

Common Impetigo or Non-bullous Impetigo

This type of disease is the most recurrent. It usually starts with small reddish lesions, much like mosquito bites, which evolve quickly to larger lesions with pus and, when burst, form golden-colored crusts.

Lesions of the common impetigo usually appear on the face and / or skull, but they can also occur on the individual’s arms and legs. They do not usually hurt, however they cause a lot of itching in the person. Recalling that the act of scratching these lesions can favor the transmission of the disease through contaminated hands.

As time goes by, the scabs of these lesions disappear, leaving no scars.

Bullous Impetigo

This type of impetigo is caused only by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus , which is capable of producing toxins that cause the epidermis to detach (the outermost layer of the skin), causing blisters to appear. Bullous impetigo usually appears on the upper and lower limbs, buttocks and torso.

Its initial lesions develop in the same way as in common impetigo, but they evolve very quickly to blisters that contain a yellowish content. When they break, they leave a reddish-yellow crust, usually larger and longer lasting than in common impetigo. In addition to these symptoms, others such as malaise and loss of appetite are also common.

About the healing of injuries, as well as in common impetigo they also usually heal without leaving any sequelae.


The most severe form of impetigo, ectima affects the deeper layers of the skin. Typically, your lesions develop into skin ulcers that may contain pus. Consequently, these ulcers develop into thick, yellowish crusts, with a reddish margin, and which when they heal leave scars.

This type of impetigo usually develops in the lower limbs and can be caused by both types of bacteria.


Most of the time, the disease is diagnosed only with the clinical analysis performed by the doctor, who can be either the dermatologist (in the case of adults) or the pediatrician (in the case of children). As impetigo produces lesions with characteristic crusts and colors, it is usually not necessary to carry out additional tests in the diagnosis – unless the case is of recurrent impetigo or ectima, in these cases there is the collection of material from the lesions in order to be analyzed in the laboratory.

The doctor may also ask the patient some questions to be sure whether the infection is impetigo or not, such as:

  • When did the injuries start?
  • What did the injuries look like when they started?
  • Are the injuries painful or itchy?
  • Has anyone in your family ever had impetigo?
  • Etc.

Treatment of Impetigo

As much as it is an infection, impetigo is not serious and in most cases it heals itself, only with the help of good hygiene and the isolation of the person – so that the disease is not transmitted quickly and easily. However, the specialist may prescribe the use of an antibiotic so that the chance of transmitting the disease to other people is reduced, in addition to speeding up the healing of the lesions and decreasing the risk of complications from the disease.

Among these antibiotics , there is the possibility that they can be applied directly to the wound, through cream or ointment, or be administered orally, in pre-established doses. Remember to always consult with a dermatologist before using any medication.

Most used drugs

  • Bactroban ;
  • Cefanaxil ;
  • Ceclor ;
  • Cefadroxil ;
  • Cephalothin ;
  • Disodium Ceftriaxone;
  • Ceftriaxone Sodium ;
  • Ciprofloxacin ;
  • Clindamycin ;
  • Cilodex ;
  • Clindamin-C ;
  • Clocef ;
  • Clordox ;
  • Levofloxacin ;
  • Meticorten ;
  • Mupirocin ;
  • Nebacetin ;
  • Oxacillin .

Herbal Medicines

Attention: the use of these methods must be done in addition to the medications previously indicated by your doctor.

  • Tea tree oil (tea tree, tee tree);
  • Calendula ointment.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.


As already mentioned, impetigo is neither a serious nor a dangerous disease. Therefore, there are rarely any complications related to this disease – but they do exist. See below what these complications are.

  • Cellulite: contrary to what every woman, mainly, thinks, cellulite is a serious infection that affects the underlying tissues of the skin, and can spread to the lymph nodes and also in the bloodstream. When not treated quickly, it can be fatal.
  • Kidney problems: one of the bacteria that causes impetigo can also affect the kidneys.
  • Scars: ectima lesions, the most severe type of impetigo, can leave scars on the patient’s body.

How to prevent Impetigo

If you have impetigo or know someone who is, it is interesting that you do not have close contact with it, as the disease can be easily transmitted through direct contact with the wound or from objects contaminated by the sick person. In addition, keeping your skin clean as best as you can also helps.

Among other forms of prevention are:

  • Wash the affected areas with mild soap and, after rinsing, cover with gauze;
  • Wash the patient’s clothes, sheets and towels every day and do not share them with other family members;
  • Wear gloves when applying antibiotic ointment and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards;
  • Cut the nails of the infected child so that he / she avoids scratching and, thus, becomes infected again;
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Keep the infected person at home until the doctor points out that he is no longer contagious to others.

With the use of these recommendations and also the dissemination of this information from the article, prevention and knowledge about impetigo increases. So help us with your sharing, be it for friends or family!