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What causes impetigo?

Impetigo can be caused by the Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or group A Streptococci (strep) bacteria. Bullous impetigo is usually caused by the staph bacteria and can occur at any age, while impetigo caused by strep is more likely to appear between the ages of two and five. Impetigo is extremely contagious. It can be spread by direct contact with the infected skin

or through contact with an item used by the infected person. Epidemic impetigo spreads quickly among children and is aided by poor hygiene, overcrowded living conditions, and heat. Staph and strep bacteria can get through the skin’s natural defenses if the skin is broken, such as by a cut, bite, or chickenpox sores.

Epidemic impetigo can be caused by staph or strep bacteria, and (as the name implies) is very easily passed between children. Certain factors, such as heat and humidity, crowded conditions, and poor hygiene increase the chance that this type of impetigo will spread rapidly among large groups of children. This type of impetigo involves the formation of a small vesicle surrounded by a circle of reddened skin. The vesicles appear first on the face and legs. When a child has several of these vesicles close together, they may spread to each other. The skin surface may become eaten away (ulcerated), leaving irritated pits. When there are many of these deep, pitting ulcers, with pus in the center and brownish-black scabs, the condition is called ecthyma. If left untreated, the type of bacteria causing this type of impetigo has the potential to cause a serious kidney disease, called glomerulonephritis. Even when impetigo is initially caused by strep bacteria, the vesicles are frequently secondarily infected with staph bacteria.

More information on impetigo

What is impetigo? - Impetigo is a skin infection caused by Streptococcus (strep) and Staphylococcus (staph) bacteria. Impetigo usually appears around the nose and mouth.
What are the symptoms of impetigo? - Impetigo has two general forms: ordinary impetigo and bullous impetigo. Impetigo causes small bumps or blisters that burst.
What causes impetigo? - Impetigo can be caused by the Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or group A Streptococci (strep) bacteria. Epidemic impetigo can be caused by staph or strep bacteria.
What's the treatment for impetigo? - Impetigo usually is treated with antibiotics. The treatment involves washing with soap and water and letting the impetigo dry in the air.
How to prevent impetigo? - To help prevent impetigo, take a bath or shower every day, and always keep your skin clean. 
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All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005