Symptoms and causes

Impetigo is a superficial skin infection with bacteria (usually staphylococcus, but sometimes streptococcus). The bacteria cause honey-coloured crusts and occasionally blisters (called impetigo bullosa). Impetigo usually affects the face around the nose and mouth, but sometimes there can be lesions on the body.

It occurs mostly in children and is extremely contagious. For example, there can be an upsurge or outbreaks in schools or day-care centres. Adults can also experience impetigo, but this is less likely. The skin infection occurs frequently when the skin has lesions, such as in children who have eczema or chickenpox. Impetigo does not usually cause general symptoms of illness.

Diagnosis and treatment

The dermatologist diagnoses impetigo by examining it and sometimes also takes a skin swab to check which bacteria are present and whether they will respond to the treatment. In mild cases, impetigo is treated with local antibacterial agents like disinfectants and bactericidal creams. In more extensive cases, this infection is treated with a course of antibiotics in pill form or syrup.

Treatment centres and specialisations


Latest publication date: 21/01/2021
Supervising author: Dr Van Autryve Els