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Conditions

Impetigo

Impetigo (Photo courtesy of CDC)

Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the skin, of which there are two types: bullous impetigo (which causes large, painless, fluid-filled blisters), and the more common non-bullous impetigo (which accounts for over 70% of cases and causes sores that quickly rupture leaving a yellow-brown crust.) The condition is most common in children, normally occurring between the ages of two and four. However, it can also affect adults, especially if they are living in a confined environment such as an army barracks…or the Big Brother house! Channele Hayes, the Wannabee WAG from BB8, expressed concern in the diary room that the unhygienic conditions in the famous house could lead to an outbreak of impetigo. And even troubled singer Amy Winehouse has reportedly been diagnosed with the condition (maybe she picked it up in the confines of rehab?) A seven-day treatment of antibiotic creams will usually do the trick, but oral antibiotics can also be used if the creams are ineffective.

If you’re suffering from any of the conditions featured on this site and want to apply for an onscreen consultation with one of the EB team then you can find more details here >>

Remember that you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.

If you are worried that your child may have impetigo, check our condition guide especially for parents on Embarrassing Bodies: Kids.

Watch our video and learn to detect those common and not so common rashes.

What the Men in White Coats Say

Comments and Questions

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hi i keep getting impetigo under my breasts but nothing seems to be working to clear it is there anything anyone can recommand





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Hi, I also been getting impetigo since grade school I've yet to spread to others, but yesterday my baby daughter kiss me on the mouth where my outbreak is. I Hurried to wash her lips and hands with soap and water. I so hope that helps prevent her from being a victim of impetigo. What do someone do who has touched your sores,should they go see a doctor?





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I got impetigo for the first time when I was around 6 years old. I have been getting it anywhere from 2-10 times a year since then and I am now 20. I always get it on my nose. I have eczema, so my skin is naturally dry, and I have terrible allergies which causes me to blow my nose a lot and the tissues will dry my skin out even more. It gets dry enough to crack, the bacteria enters, and boom impetigo. I have never had it spread anywhere on myself other than my nose, and I've never given it to anyone else, even when I was younger and it was hard for me to not scratch my nose. I have never had to take any oral medicine for it, I always use a bactroban cream that I was prescribed. It clears it up within a few days. Sometimes if I have acne near my nose or my nose is getting dry I will put the cream on every morning and night to avoid the outbreak altogether. I definitely agree that impetigo can do a number on your self esteem. As I get older, it occurs more inside my nostrils which is more irritating, but convenient because no one else knows about it. Right now it's right below my nostril and I've had several people tell me that it looks like my nose is bleeding or that I have "a booger" on my face. It's very frustrating. And even though I've never spread it to anyone, I'm still afraid to kiss my fiancé while I have it because I don't want him to catch it. I work in customer service and I always feel the need to wear makeup when I have impetigo so that I appear more approachable despite the large rash wreaking havoc on my face. It's a frustrating thing to deal with, but I must admit that it's comforting to know that I am not the only person who gets it regularly. I'm not sure if you can get bactroban over the counter, but it'd be worth asking your doctor about because it always works for me.





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This is my exact problem too! I'm 20 and I always get impetigo when I have a cold. I agree it completely effects your self-esteem especially at this age! I get that feeling that everyone stares but my boyfriend has been really good and always said I am beautiful whatever.

I have had impetigo once before about 5weeks ago, but now I think it had come back. It looks like before but I'm not sure if it is just a lot of white heads. The last time I had it I was off school for a week but I don't want to say off for a whole week or even longer, HELP!!





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I'm 14 and I had a seriously bad case of impetigo last year it spread the whole way across my face on my lip,nose and corner of my left eye it hurt so much, i went to about 6 different doctors and it kept coming back time after time again with so many different medications I was taking up to 8 tablets and 4 different creams a day. it dropped my confidence level way too low I didn't want to leave the house and didn't go to school for about 3 weeks, possibly the worse time of my life. Just the other day I noticed I had dry skin in the corner of my left eye I didn't take much notice but earlier today I noticed it has a crusty yellowy/browny layer and red irritating looking spots down my left check:'( I really don't want to have to go through this again I was so depressed last time.





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Impetigo is ruining my life :( I am a Nurse an get this horrible condition every 6 weeks or so. This results in me having to take time off my work. My work are now saying they may not be able to support my sick time which has left me distraught. I love my job and hate having to take time off my work ( infection control do not allow me on the ward when I have an outbreak ). I am now resistant to flucloxacillin and fucidin. With this outbreak I am being treated with eurithromycin and crycacide. This condition is impacting on my self confidence, self esteem & my relationship with my partner as well problems at work. I need help please- if anybody hs any advice I would love to hear it. Thank you in advance. Take Care x





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Hi, After reading your comments I feel I am not alone. I am also a nurse and have been suffering with impetigo on and off for some years now. It seems to be occurring more frequent now mostly every 2 months and I have to take time off work because of the job involving patient contact. I feel the GP doesn't seem to understand the impact it is having on my life. Like you, I feel it is affecting my home life as well as work. I also feel like I may lose my job if I keep taking time off, I have only been in my new job for 3 months and been off twice already because of impetigo. I wish there was an answer but I never seem to get anywhere. I know that I am not the only one suffering though and that there is support from others who are going through the same thing.

Hello my lovely, It's horrible isn't it but as you said it's nice to know I am not alone too. If we ever find a cure it would be life changing. We will just hang onto hope and pray we can keep our jobs Take care x

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Since I was about 3 I've had impetigo 2/3 times a year without fail. Always given fucidin cream, and usually clears up within a week. My last time I had it was 2012 and this week it's suddenly Come back. I have been pretty stressed lately, but it has gone quite quickly as I can tell the signs and went straight to doctor. There's nothing i can do to stop it, so I just accept it and be as hygienic and clean as possible to prevent it happening.





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Can you have impetigo in your genital region? If so can it cause painful urination?





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I got a small spot of impetigo on my face from wrestling. I thought it was a zit and just found out about 10 mins ago. My boy friend tried to pot it earlier today and we had sex and he touched my vagina and so did I! My mom already put cream on my face but should I also put the cream on my vagina?? I have no sores yet but should I do it just to be safe? And if it does speak to my vagina will it be the exterior only or interior as well?? I really really need answers quick! I'm very worried about this!!





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I have bouts of impetigo about 5-10 times every year. The impetigo seems to appear if I am run-down or stressed, which just adds to my overall stress level. I usually get it in my nose, above my upper lip, or on my chin. If you take some golden seal powder (strong natural antiseptic) and mix it with a little olive oil, it makes a great topical spread which works way better than most antibacterial creams. The golden seal dries out the existing sores and prevents spreading of bacteria. I usually apply the golden seal mixyure before bed, though since the mixture is brown in color. I am positive that I have a permanent bacteria colony in my nose since that is where the breakouts seem to originate. Can you kill the colony permanently using oral antibiotics?





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I've had recurring impetigo as well and I was given the advice to use a small amount of the cream (mine was bactraban) and dab it with a q-tip inside the nostrils. As this is typically where the bacteria originates from. By doing this, it's suppose to help kill the bacteria and prevent it from recurring. Honestly, it didn't work for me, as I had another occurrence of it recently. It may be worth a try though. Good luck. I have really suffered physically from this and emotionally. It's embarrassing and make me feel like a leper.





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It looks like no one else has asked this question, so please fill in the rest of your details below.





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Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the skin. There are two types of impetigo: Read More »

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