Author: Vanessa Ngan, Staff Writer, 2003. Updated by Dr Jannet Gomez, Postgraduate Student in Clinical Dermatology, Queen Mary University, London, United Kingdom, 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.

See 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:

Related information

Email Newsletter

Would you like to receive our dermatology updates by email?


Submit your images

We're seeking high-quality photos of skin diseases.  


Machine diagnosis

Watch DermNet's proposal to create a 'Skin Disease Image Recognition Tool' - winner of the 2017 'Clinicians' Challenge Active Award' by the NZ Ministry of Health and HiNZ.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
DermNet NZ Newsletter