Impetigo is a common skin infection treated by dermatologists that's usually found in children and infants. It is characterized as single or multiple blisters filled with pus, which pop easily and leave a reddish, raw-looking base and/or honey-colored crust. In most children, impetigo first appears near the nose and then spreads through scratching to other parts of the face, arms or legs. The blisters tend to be itchy.
There are three forms of impetigo:
- Impetigo contagiosa The most common form of impetigo, impetigo contagiosa, often starts as red sores on your child's face, usually around the nose and mouth. After the sores burst, they develop a honey-colored crust. Eventually, all that remains is a red mark that will heal over time.
- Bullous impetigo Usually found on children two and under, bullous impetigo causes painless, fluid-filled blisters that appear on the arms, legs, and trunk. Although the skin around the blister is often red, the sores are painless but may itch. With bullous impetigo, the sores may last longer than other forms of the disease.
- Ecthyma Because ecthyma penetrates deeper into the dermis, the second layer of skin, it is the most serious type of impetigo. Usually found on the legs and feet, the sores associated with ecthyma develop from painful fluid- or pus-filled sores into deep ulcers. Even after the sores heal you may still have scars.
If you are diagnosed with impetigo, your dermatologist will recommend a treatment to heal the sores and stop the infection from spreading. Because impetigo is very contagious, bandage sores while they heal. Treatment options may include:
- Hygienic measures with minor cases, your medical provider may suggest keeping the area clean and letting the infection heal on its own.
- Topical antibiotics a topical antibiotic can be used to promote healing and reduce the chance of spreading impetigo.
- Oral antibiotics for widespread or severe impetigo infections, your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic, which will attack the infection from the inside through the bloodstream. Make sure to finish the entire course of antibiotics to prevent a recurrence.