Ecthyma – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Ecthyma - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

What is Ecthyma?


Ecthyma is a skin infection similar to impetigo, but more deeply invasive. Usually caused by a streptococcus infection, ecthyma goes through the outer layer (epidermis) to the deeper layer (dermis) of skin, possibly causing scars.


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.


Alternate name : Bacterial Ulcer

Symptoms of the Ecthyma


Ecthyma begins as a small blister that may be pus-filled and have a reddish border. A crusted ulcer follows the appearance of the blister.

Causes of Ecthyma


The bacterium Streptococcus is the most common infectious organism associated with ecthyma. Staphylococcus bacteria can also cause ecthyma. The infection may start at the site of an injury, such as a scratch or insect bite, and is often found on the legs.

An ecthyma may begin with a pus-filled blister, similar to that seen in impetigo. However, the infection goes through the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and into the deeper layer (dermis). An ulcer with raised borders develops. It is covered by a hard crust. Unlike impetigo, ecthyma can sometimes result in scarring.

Treatment of Ecthyma


  • Soak a clean cloth in a mixture of half a cup of white vinegar in a litre of tepid water. Apply the compress to moist areas for about ten minutes several times a day.
  • A topical antibiotic ointment such as fucidic acid or mupirocin is often prescribed for localised ecthyma.
  • Removal of the crust aids in drainage.
  • Systemic antibiotics against both staphylococci and streptococci are indicated.

A topical antiseptic such as povidone iodine, antibacterial Manuka honey or Crystacide (hydrogen peroxide) cream may be used instead. Apply it at least three times a day to the affected areas and surrounding skin.

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