What Is the Best Treatment for Impetigo?

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that causes a rash that forms blisters and can ooze pus, causing a crust. Impetigo can be caused by different kinds of bacteria, including strep and staph. Usually, impetigo is easy to treat and rarely leaves scarring.

Are there home remedies for impetigo?

An impetigo infection is not serious and is very treatable. Mild impetigo can be handled by gentle cleansing of the sores, removing crusts from the infected person, and applying the prescription antibiotic ointment mupirocin (Bactroban). Nonprescription topical antibiotic ointments (such as Neosporin) generally are not effective.

What is the treatment for impetigo?

More severe or widespread impetigo, especially of bullous impetigo, may require oral antibiotic medication. In recent years, more staph germs have developed resistance to standard antibiotics. Bacterial culture tests can help a doctor to guide the use of proper oral therapy if needed. Antibiotics which can be helpful include penicillin derivatives (such as amoxicillin-clavulanic acid [Augmentin]) and cephalosporins such as cephalexin (Keflex). If clinical suspicion supported by culture results show other bacteria, such as drug-resistant staph (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA), other antibiotics such as clindamycin, doxycycline (Doryx) or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim or Septra) may be necessary.

What kind of doctor treats impetigo?

A primary care doctor -- a pediatrician, family practice doctor, or internist -- can routinely manage evaluation and treatment of impetigo. If there are unusual health issues or no response to appropriate antibiotic therapy, a specialist in infectious diseases or dermatology could be consulted.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/20/2019
References
REFERENCES:

Paller, A.S., and A.J. Mancini. Hurwitz Clinical Pediatric Dermatology, 3rd Edition. London: Elsevier, 2006: 366-367.

Tessaro, Mark Oliver. "Visual Diagnosis: A Boy with a Fever and a Swollen, Blistering Finger." Pediatrics in Review 37.5 May 2016.

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