Impetigo (sometimes impetaigo) is a superficial bacterial skin infection most common among pre-school children. People who play close contact sports such as rugby, American football and wrestling are also susceptible, regardless of age. Impetigo is not as common in adults. It is also highly contagious. The name derives from the Latin ''impetere'' ("assail"). It is also known as school sores.
It is primarily caused by ''Staphylococcus aureus'', and sometimes by ''Streptococcus pyogenes''. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, both bullous and nonbullous are primarily caused by ''Staphylococcus aureus'', with ''Streptococcus'' also commonly being involved in the nonbullous form."
Impetigo generally appears as honey-colored scabs formed from dried serum, and is often found on the arms, legs, or face. Impetigo also causes flu-like symptoms which may cause fatigue, weakness of muscles, headaches and vomiting.
Bullous impetigo primarily affects infants and children younger than 2 years. It causes painless, fluid-filled blisters — usually on the trunk, arms and legs. The skin around the blister is usually red and itchy but not sore. The blisters, which break and scab over with a yellow-colored crust, may be large or small, and may last longer than sores from other types of impetigo.
Ecthyma is a more serious form of impetigo in which the infection penetrates deeper into the skin's second layer, the dermis. Signs and symptoms include:
- Painful fluid- or pus-filled sores that turn into deep ulcers, usually on the legs and feet
- A hard, thick, gray-yellow crust covering the sores
- Swollen lymph glands in the affected area
- Little holes the size of pinheads to the size of pennies appear after crust recedes
- Scars that remain after the ulcers heal
For generations, the disease was treated with an application of the antiseptic gentian violet. Today, topical or oral antibiotics are usually prescribed. Treatment may involve washing with soap and water and letting the impetigo dry in the air. Mild cases may be treated with bactericidal ointment, such as fusidic acid, mupirocin, chloramphenicol or neosporin, which in some countries may be available over-the-counter. More severe cases require oral antibiotics, such as dicloxacillin, flucloxacillin or erythromycin. Alternatively amoxicillin combined with clavulanate potassium, cephalosporins (1st generation) and many others may also be used as an antibiotic treatment.
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