What Does Impetigo Look Like?

CMSP/Custom Medical Stock Photo/Getty Images

Impetigo is a type of bacterial skin infection characterized by red, oozing sores that burst open and develop a yellow-brown crust, according to WebMD. While these sores can appear anywhere on the body, they are most common around the mouth and nose. Impetigo is one the most common infections in children, however, it can also infect adults.

Beginning as small red spots that then change into blisters, impetigo is not typically painful, but it may be itchy, according to WebMD. Impetigo sores range in size from pimple-sized to as large as a coin. Impetigo is diagnosed by a visual examination and treated using an antibiotic cream or pills. Most impetigo infections clear within three days from the beginning of treatment.

Impetigo is highly contagious and is spread through the sharing of personal items, such as towels, clothing, sheets and toys, according to WebMD. Sores are also spread to other parts of the body and other people through scratching. Caused by either strep or staph bacteria, impetigo can appear on healthy skin, but most often appears in cases where skin problems occur and bacteria enters the skin, such as in people suffering from eczema, contact dermatitis from poison ivy, insect bites, burns or cuts.