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What causes impetigo?

Impetigo is caused by infection of the outer layer of the skin with Streptococcus pygoenes or Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Both types of bacteria can live on the skin and in the nose without causing any harm. Impetigo generally occurs when the bacteria get past the skin's natural barrier, usually through a break in the skin. Common causes for skin damage are insect bites, cuts and scratches, and other skin conditions, such as eczema, head lice or scabies. However, impetigo can also affect healthy skin that has no obvious signs of damage. Once bacteria enter through skin breaks, they cause localized inflammation in the top layers of the skin. This leads to the characteristic symptoms of red sores, fluid-filled blisters, and crusting on the skin.

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About this article

Author: Lauren Donley BSc (Hons)
First answered: 09 Nov 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Votes: 1017 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Impetigo


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