Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Impetigo Overview

What is impetigo?
A person with impetigo has a bacterial infection of the skin that causes a red rash. In most cases, yellow fluid drains from the skin and brown scabs form over the surface. Impetigo is usually caused by an infection with Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria. Impetigo is most common in young children. The rash is very contagious and is prone to spread from one part of the body to another, via self-inoculation (scratching). A form of impetigo that causes large blisters or blebs to form on the skin is called bullous impetigo.

What are the symptoms of impetigo?
The most common symptom of impetigo is a red rash. The rash may be covered by yellow fluid, and yellow or brown scabs may form over the skin. Additional symptoms of impetigo include skin swelling and swollen glands near the rash.

How does the doctor treat impetigo?
Treatment for impetigo includes frequent skin cleansing, oral antibiotics, topical antibiotic creams, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. With treatment, the rash usually resolves within 10 days.

Continue to Impetigo Incidence

Last Updated: May 18, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Impetigo References
  1. Epps RE. Impetigo in pediatrics. Cutis. 2004 May;73(5 Suppl):25-6. [15182164]
  2. George A, Rubin G. A systematic review and meta-analysis of treatments for impetigo. Br J Gen Pract. 2003 Jun;53(491):480-7. [12939895]
  3. Koning S, van Suijlekom-Smit LW, Nouwen JL, Verduin CM, Bernsen RM, Oranje AP, Thomas S, van der Wouden JC. Fusidic acid cream in the treatment of impetigo in general practice: double blind randomised placebo controlled trial. BMJ. 2002 Jan 26;324(7331):203-6. [1180964]
  4. Koning S, Verhagen AP, van Suijlekom-Smit LW, Morris A, Butler CC, van der Wouden JC. Interventions for impetigo. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(2):CD003261. [15106198]
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