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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.

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 March 14, 2014

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