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Impetigo

A bacterial skin infection characterized by red sores or blisters that progress to a honey colored crust.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Impetigo

Impetigo (Impetigo contagiosa) is an itchy and sometimes painful infection of the outer layers of skin. It is especially common in young children. The infection is caused by bacteria and is very contagious. Children who have it should not go to daycare, kindergarten or school, where they might infect other children.

Symptoms

The early signs of impetigo usually appear around the mouth and nose: an itchy reddish rash with liquid-filled blisters that burst very easily. The burst blisters form yellowish crusts, which then later fall off without leaving behind any scars.

Causes and risk factors

Impetigo is a bacterial infection, usually caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. These germs can enter your skin in different ways, including through minor cuts or scrapes, a rash or an insect bite.

They spread to other people through skin contact, or through contact with objects that an infected person has touched... Read more about Impetigo

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Interventions for the skin infection impetigo

Impetigo causes blister‐like sores. The sores can fill with pus and form scabs, and scratching can spread the infection. Impetigo is caused by bacteria. It is contagious and usually occurs in children. It is the most common bacterial skin infection presented by children to primary care physicians. Treatment options include topical antibiotics (antibiotic creams), oral antibiotics (antibiotics taken by mouth), and disinfectant solutions. There is no generally agreed standard treatment, and the evidence on what intervention works best is not clear.

Topical Antibiotics for Impetigo: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines [Internet]

The purpose of this report is to retrieve and review the existing clinical effectiveness evidence on the treatment of patients with impetigo with the topical antibiotics: polymyxin B sulfate-bacitracin (Polysporin ointment), polymyxin B sulfate-gramicidin (Polysporin cream), polymyxin B sulfate-bacitracin-gramicidin (Polysporin triple ointment), bacitracin (Bacitin ointment), mupirocin (Bactroban cream/ointment), silver sufadiazine (Flamazine cream), fusidic acid/fusidate sodium (Fucidin cream/ointment), and fusidic acid 2% with hydrocortisone (Fucidin H), compared to each other, placebo or oral antibiotics. Additionally, this report aims to retrieve and review evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of impetigo using topical antibiotics.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of treatments for impetigo

BACKGROUND: Impetigo is a common clinical problem seen in general practice. Uncertainty exists as to the most effective treatment, or indeed if treatment is necessary.

See all (10)

Summaries for consumers

Impetigo: What can make it go away faster?

Research shows that milder cases of impetigo go away faster when they are treated with particular antibiotic creams. It isn't clear whether disinfectant solutions or creams can help.

Impetigo: Overview

Impetigo is an itchy and sometimes painful infection of the outer layers of skin. It is especially common in young children. Antibiotics are often used to make it go away faster. Impetigo is highly contagious and caused by bacteria.

Interventions for the skin infection impetigo

Impetigo causes blister‐like sores. The sores can fill with pus and form scabs, and scratching can spread the infection. Impetigo is caused by bacteria. It is contagious and usually occurs in children. It is the most common bacterial skin infection presented by children to primary care physicians. Treatment options include topical antibiotics (antibiotic creams), oral antibiotics (antibiotics taken by mouth), and disinfectant solutions. There is no generally agreed standard treatment, and the evidence on what intervention works best is not clear.

See all (7)

Terms to know

Bacterial Infections
An acute infectious disorder caused by gram-positive or gram-negative bacteria.
Blister
A fluid-filled sac in the outer layer of skin. It can be caused by rubbing, heat, or diseases of the skin.
Contagious Disease
Infectious diseases are sometimes called "contagious disease" when they are easily transmitted by contact with an ill person or their secretions (e.g., influenza). Thus, a contagious disease is a subset of infectious disease that is especially infective or easily transmitted.
Rash
Any change in the skin which affects its appearance or texture. A rash may be localized to one part of the body, or affect all the skin. Rashes may cause the skin to change color, itch, become warm, bumpy, dry, cracked or blistered, swell and may be painful.
Skin
The outer covering of the body that protects it from the environment.

More about Impetigo

Photo of a child

Also called: Impetigo contagiosa, School sores

Other terms to know: See all 5
Bacterial Infections, Blister, Contagious Disease

Related articles:
Impetigo: What Can Make It Go Away Faster?

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