Impetigo is mainly caught by children: how long does it take and how is it treated?

What is impetigo

Impetigo (vulgar impetigo) is a contagious skin condition that can affect anyone, but most commonly affects toddlers and preschoolers.

Its typical form is the seedling of fluid-filled blisters.

Impetigo is caused by various bacteria, but most commonly it is Staphylococcus aureus Where Streptococcus pyogenes. They usually enter the body through damaged skin, but sometimes healthy skin also becomes infected.

Impetigo was named after the rate of spread and change in symptoms

Our ancestors already knew impetigo. The name comes from the 14th century and comes from the Latin word impetere, which means “to attack”. You could say that is an apt name for this disease, which spreads so easily and quickly.

The first symptoms of the disease are red sores on the skin, often clustered around the nose and lips. It relatively quickly turns into blisters that get wet and crack and then form a yellowish crust of scabs. It sometimes forms directly without visible blisters. After the scab phase, red streaks form, which gradually fade.

In addition to the face, impetigo often attacks the limbs or torso, and as the blisters spread, they often coalesce.

We recognize three types of impetigo

The first symptoms usually appear 2 to 10 days after infection. There are three types of impetigo.

Nebulous Impetigo

About 80 percent of the disease is of this type. It starts with small blisters that most commonly affect the face and limbs. They often fuse together, and when cracked, a honey-colored crust forms. After that, red spots remain, which gradually fade without leaving scars. In rare cases, the patient has fever and other systemic symptoms, but most illness goes away without them.

Bullous impetigo

He has a smaller number of blisters, but they are larger. They often appear on the torso, usually in the middle of the body between the waist and the neck or on the arms and legs. The blisters measure about 1 to 2 cm in diameter. They contain a clear or yellow liquid that becomes cloudy or darkens over time. It takes longer for them to break out than for cloudy impetigo. Then a red streak with a scaly edge will remain after them. The blisters can also hurt a lot. Fever and other general symptoms are more common in this type of impetigo than in the nebulous form.


It is the most severe form of impetigo. It is not common and, unlike the two previous forms, which only affect the upper layer of the skin, it affects the subcutaneous tissue. It often develops in untreated impetigo and is associated with many other complications, such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, or inflammatory heart or kidney disease. In this form, the painful blisters turn into festering sores with a thicker crust, the skin around them tends to be red to purple, and permanent scarring may remain after the sores.

Antibiotics support the treatment of impetigo

If impetigo is suspected, it is advisable to consult a doctor, who can make a diagnosis based on the appearance of the diseased skin and apply the appropriate treatment. Impetigo is successfully treated with antibiotics, and their choice always depends on the severity of the skin condition.

If it only happens in a small area, antibiotics in the form of an ointment or cream are used, in more severe cases the doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics.

If the treatment does not work, fluid is usually taken from the blisters and sent for culture to determine which bacterium in the particular case caused the disease and which antibiotics it is most sensitive to.

Antibiotic treatment can reduce the duration of illness to about a week to 10 days and can reduce the risk of passing the infection on to others and of more serious complications.

Rigorous hygiene prevents the transmission of impetigo

Impetigo is very contagious. The infection can be easily transmitted through objects with which the infected person has come into contact. It is therefore easy to spread in groups, for example among children in nurseries, kindergartens and schools, but also among adults in close contact, for example in changing rooms or showers at sports facilities. For the same reason, the same thing can happen within a family.

Hygiene is therefore essential to limit the transmission of this disease. If you or your child has impetigo, wash and disinfect items the patient comes into contact with, including bedding, towels, or toys. It is also advisable to wipe down the toilet board with a disinfectant after a person with impetigo has used the toilet.

Apply antibiotic ointments to the skin in disposable gloves. Prevent children from scratching their wounds and, as it is not easy, make sure they have short fingernails.

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