Impetigo: Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment and More

Impetigo is a bacteria-caused infection. It appears as sores most commonly among babies and children, often around the face and neck area. The bacterial infection is contagious and spread by touch or using the same materials used by the infected person. 

Impetigo Causes

Bacteria group that causes impetigo −

  • Group A Streptococcus

  • Staphylococcus Aureus 

Staphylococcus aureus, also called impetigo infantigo, is represented by group A strep. The bacteria are very contagious and affect the skin. It spreads if you touch the fluid from the sores or come in contact. It may take 5-10 days to see the sores appearing after you get the infection, known as group A strep.

Sores appear red and itchy with yellow scabs around the nose and mouth. It may also appear in the arms and legs. It oozes clear fluid as puss for a few days. In the advanced stage, you see a crusty yellow or honey-colored scab on the sores. It does not leave a scar after healing.

Staphylococci organisms are the other impetigo bacteria that cause the disease. It gets on your skin when you get exposed or come in touch with these bacteria. It appears as sores on the face and body.

 If you touch someone infected with impetigo or come in contact with the materials used by the infected person, such as cloth, towel, toys, or linen, you can get impetigo.

Impetigo Risk Factors


We commonly find it in the age group of 2 to 5 years.


The disease is contagious and spreads by touch within the family. You can get it in crowded areas, public places, markets, hospitals, childcare centers, and any sports that require skin contact.

The Warm and Humid Climate

The disease occurs and is likely to spread in warm, humid weather.

Ruptured Skin

The bacteria slip in if you have broken skin. It passes through a cut in the skin, rash, rapture, or even insect bite.

Health Condition

Atopic dermatitis is a skin health condition of children likely to have impetigo. Diabetic patients having poor immunity are prone to develop impetigo.


You get to see the symptoms of impetigo when you see reddish sores around the nose and mouth. The sores rapidly rupture and start oozing for a few days. Then it forms a honey color crust. The sores are contagious and spread through touch, cloth, and towels to other body areas, but the sores and itching are mild.

Another form of impetigo is bullous impetigo, a less common form. If you get blisters in the trunks of infants and children, it could be bullous impetigo. The severe form is ecthyma impetigo. You will see more painful or pus-filled sores.


You can prevent impetigo by washing your hands and laundering them regularly, cleaning wounds, taking oral antibiotic medications, and in a topical form in the ointment or cream form as prescribed.

Wash hands with alcohol-based sanitizers, hand rub, or soap and water. Keep and carry an alcohol-based hand rub and use it after touching metals or cloths in a public place where water for washing is unavailable.

If you get even a minor cut, clean it immediately with flowing water, especially the wounds that break the skin, such as blisters or scrapes. The impetigo bacteria get into your body through the cutes.

Apply a non-stick clean bandage over the draining or open wound or cut. Cover the injury with a dry bandage until it heals.

If you suspect impetigo sores, visit a doctor to check a deep and severe wound.


Doctors examine the sores on your face or body, but they do not require a lab test. Doctors may start with antibiotic treatment. If the sores do not go away, doctors take a fluid sample produced by the sores for the lab test.

The test results show which antibiotic treatment is suitable. Some stubborn impetigo bacteria become resistant to certain antibiotics.


Doctors may give you to apply prescription drugs, mupirocin antibiotic ointment, or cream. Apply it directly on the sores for 5-10 days, twice/thrice a day.

Soak the sore and the area with lukewarm water before applying the cream. Use a clean wet cloth to compress the sores for a few minutes and pat dry.

If you see any scabs, gently remove them to ensure the antibiotic ointment or cream gets applied directly to the skin. After the cream, put a non-stick bandage to cover the sore to prevent spreading to the other areas.

Ecthyma Impetigo

If you have ecthyma or more numbers of impetigo sores present, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics taken by mouth. You need to finish the course, even if the sores are gone.

Mild Impetigo

If you have mild infections not spread to other areas, you can buy over-the-counter ointment or cream to treat the impetigo at the initial stage of sores. After applying the cream, put a non-stick bandage over the area. It will prevent the sore from spreading. If you have sores or impetigo infections, do not share your cloth, towel, or equipment, as these are contagious.

More Precautions on Impetigo

The primary line of treatment for impetigo is antibiotic as ointment/cream or oral antibiotics. Do not go to a public area, swimming pool, water bodies, and hot tubs. Stay home as much if you have impetigo until it heals.

Inform your family not to come close to you or not use the same towel, bed linen, and clothes. Do not touch things you have touched.


Impetigo is rarely dangerous, and the sores are mild that heal with no scars. But in rare cases, you may experience rare health conditions, such as cellulitis, kidney problems, rheumatic fever, and scarring. If you suspect impetigo-like sores, consult a skin health specialist, such as a dermatologist or a child’s paediatrician.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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