By Kayla Harper

Cause of Disease

This contagious superficial skin infection is generally caused by one of two bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes


There are a couple of different ways that a person can transmit it. Bacteria can enter the skin through a cut, scrape, insect bite, or other breaks in the skin. People can transmit bacteria from one person to another or within the same infected person. Impetigo sores have a large amount of bacteria in them. If you scratch or touch an active sore contaminated with bacteria and then touch another part of the body, you can spread infection to that area. The infection can also spread from one person to another in the same manner. Skin-to-skin contact is the most common method of impetigo transmission.

How contagious is the disease?

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that mainly affects infants and children.

How virulent is the disease?

Your doctor probably will prescribe an antibiotic ointment if the infection is mild. If the impetigo has spread to a few places, or if the ointment isn't working, you may need to take an antibiotic pill.

Symptoms of the disease

It causes red sores that can break open, ooze fluid, and develop a yellow-brown crust. These sores can occur anywhere on the body but most often appear around the mouth and nose. Tiny blisters are usually the first symptom of impetigo. When the blisters burst, the skin underneath them is moist, red, and may ooze fluid. Next, a tan or yellow-brown crust covers the wet areas, making it look like they've been coated with honey or brown sugar.

How is the disease positively diagnosed? (What tests are done?)

Your doctor can usually diagnose impetigo just by looking at your or your child’s skin. Sometimes your doctor will gently remove a small piece of a sore to send to a lab in order to identify the bacteria. If you or your child have other signs of illness, your doctor may order bloodf or urine tests.

Treatment of the disease

Impetigo is treated with antibiotics. For cases of mild impetigo, a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic ointment or cream to put on the sores. For cases of more serious impetigo, a doctor may also prescribe antibiotic pills. At home, you should gently wash the sores with soap and water before you apply the medicine. If the sores are crusty, soak them in warm water for 15 minutes, scrub the crusts with a washcloth to remove them, and pat the sores dry.

How successful is the treatment? (Mortality rate

The treatment is pretty successful. There has only been 3 deaths in the United States. The country with the highest is Brazil and they have only had 12 deaths.

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