Impetigo (im-puh-tie-go) is a common superficial infection of the skin which usually presents itself as spontaneously appearing sores - often resembling a blister or even mimicing a cigaret burn. These sores are usually itchy and spread both outward from the original lesion and also to more remote areas of the body.

In and of itself it is not too serious; usually either a topical antibiotic such as mupiricin (Bactroban) is applied or an oral antibiotic is prescribed (penicillin, cephalexin, or erythromicin for example). Generally speaking, the sores do not scar - only the superficial layer of skin is involved. The major concern is that the immune response of the body to the streptococcus bacterium that sometimes causes the infection can cross react with tissue in the kidneys and cause serious kidney failure with dangerously high blood pressure. This condition is called acute poststretococcal glomerulonephritis and is a potentially fatal disease if not treated. Thus the emphasis on promptly eradicating impetigo, an otherwise fairly harmless nuisance disease.

Impetigo classically was taught as caused by the Streptococcus pyogenesbacterium. Nowadays, the causative organism in impetigo infections is Staphylococcus aureus.

Do not pronounce it "infant-tie-go."

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