Overview of Impetigo

Skin disorders are common at every age. They can affect all individuals of all genders. The more common a condition is; the more treatment options it has. Impetigo’s name in Latin literally means “to attack”.

The origin of the disease can be dated back to olden times. In Europe, this was known to be the disease that attacked the body and was easily spread.

Impetigo (Zard e zakham / زرد زخم) is a common skin infection that can affect an individual at any stage. It is more common in infants and children than adults. Impetigo is an acute superficial skin infection and appears as red sores or blisters on the face, lips, nose, and mouth.

It can affect various body parts at once and can spread to others as well. It is a bacterial infection and is contagious for the first 48 hours

Prevalence of Impetigo

The global population affected by impetigo is 162 million.

In Pakistan, Karachi has a high prevalence rate of impetigo. Out of the infected, almost 82% of cases are of impetigo contagiosa and 18% of impetigo bullous.

Underprivileged children of low-income households are at a greater risk of developing impetigo.

Signs and Symptoms of Impetigo

Symptoms of impetigo include:

  • Red sores 
  • Sores turn into blisters
  • Blisters pop open and ooze fluid
  • A yellow-brown crust develops on the blisters
  • Sores development on the exposed skin

Types of Impetigo

There are three types of impetigo based on appearance:

  • Nonbullous impetigo

It is also called crusted impetigo. This type of infection appears as tiny blisters which then burst open at a later stage. As they heal, they develop a crust of brown or golden hue.

  • Bullous Impetigo

It is differentiated by the formation of large blisters that go from being clear to cloudy. They don’t burst for a long time and may dry out.

  • Ecthyma

Ecthyma is the ulcerative form of impetigo. The skin looks ‘punched out’. It is differentiated by yellow crust and red edges.

Causes of Impetigo

It is primarily caused by bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus. It can also develop as a secondary infection by skin lesions.


Risk Factors of Impetigo

Risk factors of impetigo include:

  • Children from ages 2 to 5
  • Individuals living in a warm, humid environment (or conditions)
  • A trauma or skin injury or broken skin
  • Weakened immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Eczema and other skin conditions
  • Insect Bites
  • Some contact sports

Health Complications of Impetigo

Impetigo is not a severe infection but sometimes, prolonged infection and treatment or no treatment can cause the following health complications:

  • Sepsis
  • Lymphangitis
  • Cellulitis
  • Acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis
  • Kidney problems
  • Ulcer scarring



Preventive measures can be taken to control the spread of the infection. Some of them are:

  • Keep the wounds clean
  • Wear gloves while applying the ointment to the infected area
  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching the blisters
  • Wash the infected person’s clothes and linen separately
  • Clip the nails short to avoid scratching
  • Stay away from other individuals until the disease is declared non-contagious


Impetigo usually goes away in 07 to 10 days, if properly treated. A diagnosis includes:

  • A physical examination of the red sores.
  • If still in doubt, a bacterial culture is done.
  • The count of neutrophils, confirmed by the lab test, may be an indication of impetigo.
  • A bacterial swab is the last resort for a diagnosis.

Treatment of Impetigo | When to Consult a Doctor

Impetigo is treated in various ways. Some of which are as follows:

Home Treatment

Home remedies are not quite effective for impetigo. But they can be done to speed up the treatment process along with the prescribed medication.

  • The body can be soaked a couple of times throughout the day to relieve the itch.
  • Sores must be cleaned properly and gently and the crust is then removed.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching the infected area.
  • Sores can be covered with a bandage or gauze to spread the infection.
  • If the body is antibiotic-resistant, essential oils can be used.
  • Geranium and Tea Tree Oil are effective and antibacterial.


For every bacterial infection, antibiotics are the first choice. Ointments and Creams are applied directly to the affected area which includes:

  • Mupirocin cream or ointment
  • Retapamulin ointment 

If the ointments are not effective, oral antibiotics are taken. Such as:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Clindamycin
  • Cephalosporin

Oral medication may have some side effects as well.

Note: All medication is to be taken as prescribed by the doctor.

In case of any concerning signs and symptoms, you need to consult a certified dermatologist as soon as possible.