Impetigo FAQ

 The following are frequently asked questions on impetigo, a skin infectious condition commonly seen among young children.

What Is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection, normally affecting young children, especially in the age group of one to four years.  However, it is not an uncommon condition suffered by adults as well.  This is a skin condition that causes blisters and sores to occur, especially on the face – around the nose, mouth, and chin areas.

Impetigo is of two types –

–       Non-Bullous Impetigo:  This is the common variant of impetigo that causes rash-like skin eruptions, especially around the nose and corners of the mouth.  These then turn very quickly into small fluid-filled skin pouches, which break open easily to form honey-colored crusts.

–       Bullous Impetigo:  This variant causes large vesicles or blisters to occur, and these may appear not only on the facial regions, but also on the trunk and extremities as well.

What Causes Impetigo?

On the human skin are found residing several types of bacteria that usually do not cause any harm.  They become malicious when they find a way to enter the skin and begin to multiply.  Impetigo is caused by the streptococcus or staphylococcus bacterial strain, and these find their way through the skin’s barrier when small cuts, bruises, abrasions or insect bites occur.

Also, any other skin abnormalities occurring, like eczema or dermatitis, which throws the skin’s barrier into disorder can lead to the invasion of these infection-causing bacteria and trigger impetigo.

Is Impetigo Contagious?

Yes, impetigo is contagious.  It spreads easily from person-to-person by skin contact or by handling items that have been used or touched by the infected person.

For How Long Will Impetigo Remain Infectious?

In case the condition is failed to be properly diagnosed and no proper treatment is started, the condition will remain infectious as long as it continues to exist.  However, if antibiotic treatment is commenced, the patient will remain infectious for only the first two days of treatment, after which they will not be able to spread the disease.

What is the Incubation Period for Impetigo?

The incubation period differs for both types of bacteria that cause impetigo.  In case the infection is brought on by the streptococcus bacterial strain, it is 1 to 3 days; if it is the staphylococcus bacterium that is causing it, then it will be 4 to 10 days.

What are the Signs of Impetigo?

The symptom presentation of impetigo are small, pimple-like skin elevations seen, which burst open to exude its liquid content.  The liquid then dries and harden up to form thick scabs over the open sores, looking very similar to honey crystals.  Initially, only a couple of sores will be noted, but very quickly new patches will appear around the existing ones.  The skin that lies beneath the sores will have a red and inflamed look.  The sufferer will also develop a sense of itchiness with an increased urge to scratch at them, an action that they should refrain from carrying out.  Scratching the infected skin will only increase the risk of its spread to other body areas.

Almost all bacterial skin infections have a similar presentation, and it is easy to get confused and be unable to differentiate one from the other.  Get a proper diagnosis and prompt treatment, to prevent impetigo spread.