Impetigo, one of the most common skin infections among kids, usually produces blisters or sores on the face, neck, hands, and diaper area.
This contagious superficial skin infection is generally caused by one of two bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes (also called group A streptococcus, which also causes strep throat). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is also becoming an important cause of impetigo.
Impetigo usually affects preschool and school-age children. A child may be more likely to develop impetigo if the skin has already been irritated by other skin problems, such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, and cuts or scrapes due to minor trauma.
Good hygiene can help prevent impetigo, which often develops when there is a sore or a rash that has been scratched repeatedly (for example, poison ivy can get infected and turn into impetigo).
Doctors can usually diagnose impetigo based on the appearance of the rash. Occasionally, they may need to take a sample of fluid from blisters. Impetigo is typically treated with either an antibiotic ointment or medication taken by mouth.
Signs and Symptoms
Impetigo may affect skin anywhere on the body but commonly occurs around the nose and mouth, hands, and forearms, and in young children, the diaper area.
The two types of impetigo are bullous impetigo (large blisters) and non-bullous impetigo (crusted) impetigo. The non-bullous or crusted form is most common. It's usually caused by S. aureus but can also be caused by infection with group A streptococcus. Non-bullous begins as tiny blisters, which eventually burst and leave small wet patches of red skin that may weep fluid. Gradually, a tan or yellowish-brown crust covers the affected area, making it look like it has been coated with honey or brown sugar.
Bullous impetigo is nearly always caused by S. aureus, which releases toxins that trigger the formation of larger fluid-containing blisters that appear clear, then cloudy. These blisters are more likely to stay longer on the skin without bursting.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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