What is Impetigo

There are two types of impetigo, non-bullous and bullous. The more common type is the non-bullous impetigo. This type is caused by both Staph and Strep. The individual with this infection may notice small blisters or scabs, which will form yellow crusts. Non-bullous impetigo usually appears on the nose, face, arms and legs. The glands nearby may be swollen.

Staph bacteria that then produce a toxin that will cause the skin to break out in blisters cause the bullous type of impetigo.


Impetigo is contagious when there is direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who has impetigo. Impetigo usually spreads to other parts of the body, especially in children.

Other conditions like ringworm and scabies mimic impetigo, so a doctor has to diagnose impetigo.

The treatment for impetigo involves applying a prescription antibiotic ointment. The very mild cases of impetigo can go away without treatment. Bullous impetigo, may require oral antibiotic medication to be cleared up. The doctor may need to take a culture to decide which antibiotic is best to use.


There is one possible complication of impetigo and that is glomerulonephritis, a kidney condition that produces inflammation. This complication is rare and does not cause any lasting kidney damage.

Impetigo does not normally leave scars unless it goes untreated over a long period of time.


It is important to seek medical care as soon as you notice the symptoms of impetigo because treating it with antibiotics will help it to heal faster which decreases the chance of spreading it to others. The antibiotic prescribed may be oral, an ointment or both.

Usually the antibiotic is of the penicillin family medicines or a related type of medicine called cephalosporins. Those who are allergic to penicillin are usually treated with erythromycin, clarithromycin or azithromycin. The topical ointment that is usually used is called mupirocin .

You will need to notify your doctor or be seen immediately if you notice blood in your urine, your skin swells, or you experience a rise in your blood pressure. You will also need to let your doctor know if the impetigo gets worse.

When being seen by the doctor for impetigo, there are no tests necessary because the diagnosis is made by sight alone.

It is important to clean all sores or bites with an antibacterial soap. Be careful not to scratch or pick at wounds.

After applying antibacterial ointment it is important to wash your hands so you do not spread the infection.

The best way to prevent impetigo is to always clean scrapes and cuts and apply antibacterial ointment. Avoid receiving any type of skin injury if possible and seek medical attention when you suspect you may have impetigo.