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Understanding Impetigo -- Signs & Symptoms

What Are the Signs of Impetigo?

Impetigo starts out as a small cluster of blisters that after a few hours breaks into a red, moist area that oozes or weeps fluid. Impetigo appears mainly on the face but also can develop on exposed areas of the arms and legs.

In a few days, there is the formation of a golden or dark-yellow crust resembling grains of brown sugar. The infection may continue to spread at the edges of the infected area or affect other areas of skin.

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Call Your Doctor About Impetigo if:

  • You have sores or a rash that worsens or becomes more uncomfortable. An impetigo infection needs prompt medical attention.
  • Small, pus-filled sores form, with a dark brown crust. This indicates ecthyma, a deeper form of skin infection that penetrates into the skin. If left untreated, it may cause scarring and permanent changes in skin pigmentation.

NOTE: Sores associated with impetigo may be mistaken for herpes, a viral infection. Impetigo spreads faster and never develops inside the mouth. If in doubt, see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on April 15, 2015

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