Ecthyma is a bacterial skin infection caused by streptococcal and/or staphylococcal organisms.
Streptococcal and staphylococcal bacteria may cause skin infections at various levels and depths. Ecthyma is similar to impetigo, but causes deeper erosions of the skin. The infection may start at the site of a bug bite or scratch.
Ecthyma begins as a small blister that may be pus-filled and have a reddish border. A dark crusted ulcer follows the appearance of the blister. There are usually fewer than ten ecthyma ulcers.
Because ecthyma is a bacterial infection, it can be contagious to another person whose skin comes into direct physical contact with the ulcerated area of infected skin.
Any injury or bite should be thoroughly cleansed. A person should avoid scratching the skin even if it itches.
The healthcare professional is usually able to diagnose ecthyma after a complete history and physical examination. A culture may be done of the lesion.
Long-term effects of ecthyma could infrequently include spread of infection to other parts of the body or deeper skin infection. Because ecthyma is slow to heal, scarring is likely.
Because ecthyma is a bacterial disease, it can be contagious to other people who come in physical contact with the infected person.
Oral antibiotics are prescribed for ecthyma. Warm soaks are helpful to remove crusts from the lesions. Antiseptic soap, hydrogen peroxide cleansing, and antibiotic ointment may help reduce the infection.
Side effects of antibiotics include stomach upset and allergic reactions.
Most people with ecthyma make a full recovery after treatment.
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.
Hill, Marcia J. Skin Disorders: Mosby's Clinical Nursing Series, 1994
The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 1997