Ecthyma

Author: Vanessa Ngan, staff writer, 2003. Updated by Dr Jannet Gomez, Postgraduate student in Clinical Dermatology, Queen Mary University London, UK, January 2016.

What is ecthyma?

Ecthyma is a skin infection characterised by crusted sores beneath which ulcers form. It is a deep form of impetigo, as the same bacteria causing the infection are involved. Ecthyma causes deeper erosions of the skin into the dermis.

Streptococcus pyogenes and/or Staphylococcus aureus are the bacteria responsible for ecthyma.

More images of ecthyma ...

Who gets ecthyma?

People of all ages, sex and race can be affected, although children, elderly people and immunocompromised patients (eg diabetes, neutropenia, immunosuppressive medication, malignancy, HIV) tend to have a greater chance of infection. Other factors that increase the risk of ecthyma include:

What are the signs and symptoms of ecthyma?

Ecthyma most often affects buttocks, thighs, legs, ankle and feet. Occasionally, the local lymph nodes become swollen and painful.

Ecthyma lesion usually begins as a vesicle (small blister) or pustule on an inflamed area of skin.

Complications of ecthyma

Complications of ecthyma may include:

What is the treatment for ecthyma?

Treatment depends on the extent and severity of infection. Any underlying disease or skin infection such as scabies or dermatitis should also be treated.

Another very important factor to consider in the overall management of ecthyma is to improve hygiene. Measures to take include:

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