Carolinas HealthCare System

Health Information - Disease

Search Health Information   
 

Ecthyma

Definition

Ecthyma is a skin infection similar to impetigo. It is often called "deep impetigo" because it occurs deep inside the skin.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Ecthyma is most often caused by the bacteria streptococcus. Sometimes, staphylococcus bacteria causes this skin infection.

The infection may start in skin that has been injured due to a scratch or insect bite. It often develops on the legs.

Symptoms

The 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 in persons with impetigo, but the infection spreads much deeper into the skin.

After the blister goes away, a crusty ulcer appears.

Signs and tests

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

Treatment

Your doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics by mouth (oral antibiotics). Very early cases may be treated with topical medications. More advanced forms may need antibiotics given through a vein (intravenous antibiotics).

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

Expectations (prognosis)

Unlike impetigo, ecthyma can sometimes result in scarring.

Complications

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

Calling your health care provider

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

Prevention

Carefully clean the skin after an injury (such as a bite or scratch). Avoid scratching or digging at scabs and sores.

References

Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2004.

Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 6th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone; 2005.

Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2002.


Review Date: 5/13/2011
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
 
About Carolinas HealthCare System
Who We Are
Leadership
Community Benefit
Corporate Financial Information
Diversity & Inclusion
Annual Report
Foundation
Patient Links
Pay Your Bill
Hospital Pre-Registration
Patient Rights
Privacy
Financial Assistance
Quality & Value Reports
Insurance
Careers
Join Carolinas HealthCare System
Physician Careers

For Employees
Carolinas Connect
Connect with Us
Watch Carolinas HealthCare on YoutubeFollow Carolinas HealthCare on TwitterLike Carolinas HealthCare on FacebookContact Carolinas HealthCareJoin Carolinas HealthCare on LinkedInGo to our mobile website.