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Ask a Dermatologist Free: Impetigo

Dear Doctor

Hi, I have two of these blisters develop on my face today and I’m not sure what is causing them. They developed within 10 hours and look like they have a tiny amount of yellow inside but don’t look quite pus filled.

I’ve had one other of this type of blister form on my leg. It looked the same but was about 1 centimeter in diameter.

I don’t think that it is a cold sore because of its location.

What would you recommend that I do? Any short term solutions or medications?


Dear Patient

Your symptoms are suggestive of impetigo.

Causes of Impetigo

Impetigo is a skin condition which is caused by bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes.

These lesions can occur anywhere on the body but they most commonly develop around the nose and mouth.


Symptoms of Impetigo

Symptoms of impetigo include red macules (spots) which become blisters (fluid filled swellings). These eventually break open and the fluid oozes out. The lesions then develop a honey-colored crust which can be itchy.

Impetigo Treatment

Impetigo is treated with antibiotics which are applied on the skin lesions like Mupirocin (Bactroban) and Fusidic acid (Fusidin).

It is also treated with antibiotics taken by mouth like amoxicillin/clavulanate and cephalosporins.

Though impetigo can heal without treatment, it is advisable to seek early treatment since this can prevent the development of complications like glomerulonephritis.


Before applying the antibiotic the area should be washed with soap and water and patted dry. If crusting is present, a washcloth dipped in warm water can be applied to soften the crust.


Impetigo is a highly contagious skin condition and therefor the sharing of washcloths, towels, clothing and other personal items should be discouraged. In addition, these items should be washed in hot water before reusing.

Scratching of the lesions should also be discouraged since it can spread the infection to other parts of the body by a process known as autoinnoculation.


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