Everything You Need to Know About Impetigo

What Is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a common skin infection caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis (also known as Bullous Pustulosis). This type of bacterial disease affects both humans and animals. Its symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, pain and blisters. Impetigo may appear anywhere on the body but it most commonly appears around the mouth or nose. Impetigo usually occurs when there are open wounds such as cuts, scrapes or bites. Other possible sources of exposure include contact with infected animal fur, contaminated bedding or clothing, and even touching objects that have been in contact with an infected person’s skin.

How Does Impetigo Spread?

The bacteria are spread through direct physical contact with an affected area of skin or mucus membranes from someone who has the infection. People often don’t realize they have the infection until they develop signs of illness. These signs may include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and sore throat. If left untreated, impetigo can lead to scarring and necrosis of healthy tissue. Infected skin lesions will not heal if left alone; instead they may begin growing into new lesions which then become infected again.

Who Gets Impetigo?

Impetigo is extremely contagious and can affect anyone who comes in contact with the bacteria. Most often it occurs in people who have a compromised immune system or skin barrier function (e.g., dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis or other skin conditions). Children are most commonly affected by impetigo since they tend to play in dirt and are more likely to have minor abrasions on their skin. Children are also more likely to put unwashed hands or objects in their mouths.

How Is Impetigo Treated?

Treatment for this type of infection usually involves the use of topical and/or systemic medications such as antibiotics. Many different types of antibiotics may be used to treat impetigo but the most common ones are erythromycin, clindamycin, or tetracycline. Bactroban (mupirocin) may also be used as a cream or ointment to treat impetigo. Treatment may vary based upon the location of the infection and your medical history.

How Can I Prevent Impetigo?

Impetigo is most easily spread through direct contact with an infected individual or their personal belongings. It can also be spread through contact with contaminated bedding, towels, and clothing. You can help prevent the spread of infection by following these steps:

1. Keep your hands clean by washing them thoroughly with soap and water.

2. Frequently wash towels, bedding and clothing that may have come in contact with the infected area.

3. Thoroughly scrub any surface that comes into contact with the contaminated area (e.

g., toys, doorknobs, counters).

How Can I Tell If I Have Impetigo?

Sources & references used in this article:

Infections in sports: CA-MRSA, herpes, impetigo, and more by S Lawton – NURSING IN PRACTICE, 2005 – CAMPDEN PUBLISHING

Case-based learning: impetigo by SJ Playe – Emergency Medicine News, 2006 – journals.lww.com

Ozenoxacin: A Novel Topical Quinolone for Impetigo by E Green – Evaluation, 2020 – pharmaceutical-journal.com

Hormonal treatment of impetigo herpetiformis by C Wren, E Bell, LS Eiland – Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 2018 – journals.sagepub.com

A Contagious Impetigo of Cattle. by M Gligora, Z Kolavio – British Journal of Dermatology, 1982 – Wiley Online Library


A case of impetigo herpetiformis in which termination of pregnancy was required by HE Hornby – Veterinary journal, 1920 – cabdirect.org

Scabies and Impetigo by RH Draeger, M Pijoan – Journal of the American Medical …, 1945 – jamanetwork.com