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Ecthyma

Streptococcus - ecthyma; Strep - ecthyma; Staphylococcus - ecthyma; Staph - ecthyma; Skin infection - ecthyma

Ecthyma is a skin infection. It is similar to impetigo, but occurs deep inside the skin. For this reason, ecthyma is often called deep impetigo.

Causes

Ecthyma is most often caused by the streptococcus bacteria. Sometimes, staphylococcus bacteria cause this skin infection on its own or in combination with streptococcus.

The infection may start in skin that has been injured due to a scratch, rash, or insect bite. The infection often develops on the legs. People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are more prone to ecthyma.

Symptoms

Main symptom of ecthyma is a small blister with a red border that may be filled with pus. The blister is similar to that seen with impetigo, but the infection spreads much deeper into the skin.

After the blister goes away, a crusty ulcer appears.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider can usually diagnose this condition simply by looking at your skin. In rare cases, the fluid inside the blister is sent to a lab for closer examination, or a skin biopsy needs to be done.

Treatment

Your provider will usually prescribe antibiotics that you need to take by mouth (oral antibiotics). Very early cases may be treated with antibiotics that you apply to the affected area (topical antibiotics). Serious infections may need antibiotics given through a vein (intravenous antibiotics).

Placing a warm, wet cloth over the area can help remove ulcer crusts. Your provider may recommend antiseptic soap or peroxide washes to speed recovery.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Ecthyma can sometimes result in scarring.

Possible Complications

This condition may lead to:

  • Spread of infection to other parts of the body
  • Permanent skin damage with scarring

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Make an appointment with your provider if you have symptoms of ecthyma.

For more information on testing, diagnostic, surgical and treatment services available at Huron Regional Medical Center, click here. The medical staff at HRMC includes full-time primary and specialty physicians to care for your whole family, as well as visiting specialists who see patients in HRMC'S Specialty Clinic, HRMC Physicians Clinic and other local clinics. Learn more by visiting our online Find-a-Doc directory.

Prevention

Carefully clean the skin after an injury, such as a bite or scratch. Do not scratch or pick at scabs and sores.

References

James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Bacterial infections. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2020:chap 14.

Pasternack MS, Swartz MN. Cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis, and subcutaneous tissue infections. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 95.

  • Ecthyma

    Ecthyma - illustration

    Ecthyma is a skin infection similar to impetigo, but more deeply invasive. Usually caused by a streptococcus infection, ecthyma goes through the outer layer (epidermis) to the deeper layer (dermis) of skin, possibly causing scars.

    Ecthyma

    illustration

    • Ecthyma

      Ecthyma - illustration

      Ecthyma is a skin infection similar to impetigo, but more deeply invasive. Usually caused by a streptococcus infection, ecthyma goes through the outer layer (epidermis) to the deeper layer (dermis) of skin, possibly causing scars.

      Ecthyma

      illustration


     

    Review Date: 4/24/2019

    Reviewed By: Anna C. Edens Hurst, MD, MS, FACMG, Assistant Professor in Medical Genetics, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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