Need a certification?

We want you to feel confident that you're receiving the best training, so Bloodborne for Body Art is fully available for preview below. If you're in need of a certificate of completion for work, create your account today to track your progress.


Video 19 of 41
5 minutes
English, Español
English, Español
Don’t forget to create an account or login to track your progress!
Login | Create Account

So, what is impetigo? Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection, and it is one of the most highly contagious skin infections mainly affecting infants and children. It could occur in adults, but is seen far more often in children. It usually appears as red sores on the face, especially around a child's nose and mouth and on the feet and hands. The sores burst and develop an amber-colored crust, caused by one or two kinds of bacteria-strep infection, or staph infection. Often, these bacteria enter the body when the skin has already been irritated or injured because of other skin problems, such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, burns, or cuts. Children may get impetigo after they have had a cold or allergies that may have made the skin under the nose raw. But impetigo can also develop in completely healthy skin. So, who is at risk for impetigo? Let's think about the factors that increase the risk of impetigo. And they include age. Remember, impetigo mostly commonly occurs in children ages two to five. It's also much more increased with crowded conditions. Impetigo spreads easily in schools and child care settings. It spreads more with warm, humid weather, because the infections are more common in the summer. Certain sports also contribute to the spread of impetigo. Remember, participation in sports that involve skin-to-skin contact, such as football or wrestling, increases your risk of developing impetigo. And then lastly, broken skin. The bacteria that cause impetigo often enter your skin through small skin injuries, insect bites, or rash. How is impetigo transmitted? The main way is direct contact. Impetigo is spread mainly by person-to-person contact. It is rapidly spread through direct transmission in daycare centers and schools. Less frequently, the disease may be spread indirectly by contact with sheets, clothing, or toys contaminated by infected individuals. Impetigo is mainly confined to humans. Contact sports may spread impetigo. Wrestling is considered to be the most likely sport to spread it, followed by football and rugby. In talking about the period of communicability, if the disease is untreated, purulent discharges may remain infectious for weeks to months. Most cases are no longer infectious after 24 hours of appropriate antibiotic therapy. In looking at the incubation period, streptococcal infections range between one to three days. For staphylococcal infections, the range is between four to 10 days. Looking at the signs and symptoms, sores that begin as small red spots, then change to blisters that eventually break open. The sores are typically not painful, but they may be itchy. Sores that ooze fluid and look crusty. Sores that increase in size and number, and lastly, sores that may be as small as a pimple or larger than a coin. Let's take a look at the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of impetigo. Doctors usually diagnose impetigo by looking at the distinctive sores. Occasionally, a lab test is required, but are generally not necessary. In treating the impetigo, we usually use an antibiotic ointment. This ointment would be applied directly to the sores. You may need to first soak the affected area in warm water or use wet compresses to help remove the scabs, so the antibiotic can penetrate the skin. If you have more than just a few impetigo sores, your doctor might recommend antibiotic drugs that can be taken by mouth. Be sure to finish the entire course of medication even if the sores are healed. This helps prevent the infection from recurring and makes antibiotic resistance less likely. In prevention of impetigo, keeping skin clean is the best way to keep it healthy. It's important to wash cuts, scrapes, and insect bites, and other wounds, right away. To help prevent impetigo from spreading to others, gently wash the affected area with mild soap and running water, and then cover lightly with gauze. Wash an infected person's clothes, linens, and towels, every day, and don't share them with anyone else in your family. Wear gloves when applying antibiotic ointment and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. Cut an infected child's nails short to prevent damage from scratching. Wash hands frequently, and keep your child home until your doctor says he or she is no longer contagious.

In this lesson, we'll be looking at impetigo – what it is, who is most at risk of getting it, how it's transmitted, what the signs and symptoms are, along with how impetigo is diagnosed, treated, and prevented.

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that's caused by one of two types of bacteria – streptococcus (strep) or staphylococcus (staph). The bacteria enter the body most often after the skin has been injured or irritated from other skin problems like eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, burn, or cuts.

Impetigo is one of the most highly contagious skin infections and it mainly affects children. However unlikely, adults can also get impetigo.

Impetigo usually appears as red sores on the face, particularly around the nose and mouth, but it can also appear on the hands and feet. When the sores break open, a honey-colored crust follows.

Pro Tip #1: Children often get impetigo after they have a cold or when allergies flare up. All the nose wiping and nose blowing makes the skin under the nose especially raw and helps create the perfect environment. However, it can also develop in completely healthy skin.

Who is Most at Risk?

There are several factors that will increase the risk of getting impetigo and these include:

  • Age, as it's much more common in children ages two to five
  • Crowded living conditions
  • Spreads more easily in schools and childcare settings
  • Warm and humid climates, which is why impetigo is more common in summer
  • Participating in certain contact sports, like wrestling and football
  • Having uncovered broken skin, as bacteria usually enter the body this way

How is Impetigo Transmitted?

Impetigo is spread mainly by person to person contact, like with kids playing together at recess or through contact sports. It can be spread by touching items belonging to an infected person – towels, bedding, clothing – but this is far less common.

Also important to note, impetigo is mostly confined to humans.

Pro Tip #2: The period of communicability if left untreated can last weeks or months. However, after just 24 hours of appropriate treatment, this is usually enough to stop the possibility of the person still being infectious.

The incubation period for strep is one to three days, while the incubation period for staph is four to 10 days.

Signs and Symptoms of Impetigo

Sores typically begin as small red spots and change to blisters that eventually crack open. They can remain small as a pimple or grow large as a coin. They aren't usually painful but they're often itchy.

The sores can also increase in number, as well as size. And can eventually ooze fluid that then crusts over.

Testing and Diagnosis for Impetigo

Impetigo doesn't usually require anything other than a quick diagnosis done by a physician based solely on the physical appearance of the sores; lab testing is generally not necessary.

Impetigo Treatment Options

An antibiotic ointment applied directly to the affected areas is typically enough to treat impetigo. Though, soaking the infected areas in warm water first may help, as removing the scabs first will help ensure the antibiotics can better penetrate the skin.

In rare cases where there are numerous sores, a physician might prescribe an oral antibiotic. And it's important to finish whichever treatment the doctor prescribes, even if the sores have already healed, to prevent the infection from returning.

Impetigo Prevention Techniques

To prevent getting impetigo, the best thing you can do is keep your skin clean and dry and wash any cuts, scrapes, or insect bites as they happen. A little soap and water is usually sufficient.

If your child is infected, consider cutting his or her nails short to prevent them from hurting themselves or transmitting the infection to other areas in case they begin to scratch.

To prevent the spread of impetigo, gently wash the affected areas with mild soap and water and cover those areas lightly with gauze. Wash your clothing, bedding, towels, and other items daily and do not share them with others. Wear gloves when applying antibiotic ointment, and don't forget to wash your hands immediately afterward.