What is Ecthyma?

Ecthyma is a superficial, painful skin infection caused by the same bacteria that cause impetigo. Although it is sometimes called a “second-degree impetigo”, it is very different from impetigo, and often requires a stronger treatment. The lesions are often painful and can become severe if left untreated. Ecthyma is usually caused by Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria.

Signs and Symptoms of Ecthyma

The most common symptoms of ecthyma are:

  • Tender, red sores (papules) on the skin
  • Small blisters filled with yellowish fluid (pustules)
  • Lesions that become deep, crusted, and thickened over time
  • Deep ulcers which can weep, become inflamed, and form a crust
  • Lesions may secrete pus if left untreated
  • Burning pain or itching sensation

Treatment of Ecthyma

Treatment for ecthyma typically includes a course of antibiotics, such as penicillin or erythromycin. Other treatments may include drainage of the lesions if they have become abscessed, as well as topical ointments to reduce pain and discomfort. In severe cases, oral steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

Prevention of Ecthyma

Preventing ecthyma is the same as preventing skin infections in general. Good hygiene is key to preventing the spread of bacteria and infections. Properly washing the skin with soap and water on a regular basis can help reduce the risk of contracting skin infections. Also, avoiding contact with people who already have skin infections can help reduce the risk of contracting them.