Impetigo (Pyoderma) is a superficial infection of the skin caused primarily by group A streptococci and occasionally by other streptococci or by Staphylococcus aureus.This condition is seen most often in young children, tends to occur during the warmer months, and is more common in semitropical or tropical climates than in cooler regions. The infection occurs especially often among children living under conditions of poor hygiene. Minor trauma, such as a scratch or an insect bite, may then serve to lodge bacteria into the skin and cause this infection. While the bacteria causing impetigo may have been caught from someone else with impetigo or boils, impetigo usually begins out of the blue without any apparent source of infection. Impetigo is best prevented, therefore, by attention to adequate hygiene.


The usual sites of involvement are the face (particularly around the nose and mouth) and the legs, although lesions may occur at other locations.
Individual lesions begin as red papules, which turn quickly to vesicular and then pustular lesions that break down and coalesce to form characteristic honeycomb-like crusts. Lesions generally are not painful, and patients do not appear ill. Fever is not a feature of impetigo.


Bullous impetigo is a distinctive form of impetigo characterized by the presence of more extensive, bullous lesions that break down and leave thin paper like crusts instead of the thick amber crusts of impetigo.  
Treatment Consists of cleaning the lesions with soap and water and topical and systemic antiboiotics.

  • Antibiotics usually clear up impetigo in four or five days. It’s important for the antibiotic to be taken faithfully until the prescribed supply is completely used up.
  • An antibiotic ointment, such as Polysporin, should be applied thinly four times daily. Polysporin can be purchased without a prescription.
  • Crusts should be removed before the ointment is applied. Soak a soft, clean cloth in a mixture of one-half cup of white vinegar and a quart of lukewarm water. Press this cloth on the crusts for 10-15 minutes three or four times daily. Then gently wipe off the crusts and apply a little antibiotic ointment. You can stop soaking the impetigo when crusts no longer form. When the skin is healed, stop the antibiotic ointment.

Among the antibiotics useful are dicloxacillin, cephalexin, or topical mupirocin ointment provide the most reliable treatment for impetigo, although penicillin or erythromycin are cheaper alternatives and equally effective.

A possible complication of Impetigo is glomerulonephritis, a type of kidney disease.

Precautions:Impetigo is contagious when there is crusting or oozing. While it’s contagious, take the following precautions:

  • Patients should avoid close contact with other people.
  • Children should be kept home from school until the lesions crust over.
  • Use separate towels for the patient. The patient’s towels, pillowcases, and sheets should be changed after the first day of treatment. His or her clothing should be changed and laundered daily for the first two days.
  • Usually the contagious period ends within two days after treatment starts.
Skin Diseases