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What is it?

Impetigo is a superficial skin infection caused by bacteria, usually a staphylococcus type but sometimes streptococcus can also cause it. This bacteria can live on the skin and in the nose, and can be transmitted from one person to another by direct contact with nasal secretions or from skin to skin contact.

It is more common in children between two and six years. It usually begins when bacteria enters the skin through a crack, like a wound, scratch or insect bite. It is more common in children with atopic dermatitis who have lost fat barrier that protects them. Scratching will cause dryness producing an eczema that acts as a "gateway" for bacteria.


Initially lesions appear which look similar to a scratch (reddish color surrounding them). Subsequently vesicles and blisters with pus may develop. When these open up they leave honey-yellowish grouped crusts behind . It usually appears on the face (especially around the mouth and nose), arms and legs, but may appear in other areas. When the lesions are scratched they will spread, producing similar lesions in other areas on the skin. They are contagious.


The diagnosis is clinical. The dermatologist can diagnose with a simple skin examination and medical history. In addition, a skin smear examination can be performed, thus identifying the causative agent. Must be distinguished from atopic dermatitis, fungal infections and bites.

Impetigo often develops due to a previous illness: fungal bites, viral herpes, various eczema infections, etc.

Early detection and treatment are important to avoid the risk of systemic diseases.

Treatment of Impetigo

Treatment should include antibiotics taken for a minimum of 7 days if the lesions are extensive. In very mild cases a treatment with topical antibiotics may be prescribed, but this case is not common. In addition, topical disinfectants such as soaps with chlorhexidine must be used by the patient and others cohabiting. The patient must return to the clinic for a follow up visit to rule out any other previous dermatological disease.

Doctor Pablo Umbert

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