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What Causes Impetigo?

What Causes Impetigo?

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection caused by streptococcus and staphylococcus aureus bacteria. In addition to impetigo, streptococcus is the same group of bacteria that causes strep throat and other types of infections.

Dermatology specialist Yvonne Hines, MD, and the team at Hines Dermatology Associates have extensive experience treating a full spectrum of skin conditions, including skin infections. Impetigo can affect anyone, although children and older adults are most often affected.

You get impetigo when you come in contact with the sores or fluid of an infected person. Here's what you should know about impetigo.

What causes impetigo?

Impetigo is a common, contagious skin infection that usually starts with a small cut or insect bite that becomes infected. The break in the skin can allow the bacteria to enter the body and cause an infection. 

You can catch impetigo from an infected person if you touch items such as their clothes, towels, and sheets, or come in direct contact with infected skin and sores. 

It's important to know that these bacteria are common in the environment, and you won't necessarily develop impetigo from typical environmental contact. In fact, some people carry these bacteria in their nose. 

Occasionally, these bacteria can cause an infection if the bacteria from the nose invade the skin. For most people, their immune system keeps that from happening. 

Signs and symptoms of impetigo

During the initial stages of an infection, small, reddish sores appear in clusters on the skin. Impetigo tends to spread quickly, and the sores may grow into blisters that ooze and crust over. The sores may itch and feel painful, but once they heal, they fade without leaving any lasting scars. 

While impetigo can be uncomfortable, it usually isn't life-threatening, but it does require medical treatment to clear the infection. If you suspect that your child, yourself, or other loved one may have impetigo, you should see Dr. Hines as soon as possible.

Treating impetigo

Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for this bacterial infection. Dr. Hines performs a thorough evaluation of your skin and prescribes the appropriate antibiotic to treat the infection. 

If the infection affects only a small section of your skin, Dr. Hines may prescribe topical antibiotic treatment. This involves applying a cream or ointment to the affected area.

If the infection is severe or widespread, oral antibiotics are often prescribed. The most common antibiotics prescribed to treat impetigo are:

Typical treatment with oral antibiotics is 7-10 days. If you have an underlying skin condition, Dr. Hines may recommend additional treatment. If your infection fails to heal with the initial treatment regimen, Dr. Hines may order a culture to determine the infecting bacteria.

Cases of impetigo are typically mild, but complications may arise in children with underlying skin conditions. Impetigo is very contagious and requires prompt treatment. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Attleboro, Massachusetts, office by calling 508-222-1976 to schedule a visit with Dr. Hines. You can also book your request here on our website. 

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