How to Best Address Impetigo

Published Online: Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Katarzyna Lalicata, MSN, FNP-C, FNP-BC, a nurse practitioner working at CVS Minute Clinic, discusses how to best address impetigo.

Impetigo is a skin infection usually caused by Staphylococcus Aureus, though some cases are caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria. It usually affects children, most commonly between ages 2 and 6. However, adults and older children may also get the infection.

Impetigo is very contagious and can be acquired when the skin is cut or open and bacteria get under the skin, though it can also occur when the skin is not broken. Symptoms may include skin lesions on the arms, ears, legs, lips, or nose and spread to other areas of the body. Pus-filled blisters that occur with impetigo burst easily and may leave behind raw red skin. When blisters break, a raw shiny area that has a light, brown/yellow or honey-colored crust that scabs over may appear. Itching can occur in some patients, and this can lead to the spread of infection.

Bullous impetigo is a less common form and that may present as large blisters on infants and young children, especially on the torso.

Treatment may include antibiotic cream or ointment, or oral antibiotics may be given, if there are more than a few sores. Complications may include cellulitis, kidney problems, and scarring. Skin hygiene is also important. Some antibiotics include but are not limited to cephalexin, dicloxacillin, erythromycin base, and intranasal treatments, such as mupirocin topical 2%.

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