What is the definition of Ecthyma?

Ecthyma is a skin infection. It is similar to impetigo, but occurs deep inside the skin. For this reason, ecthyma is often called deep impetigo.

What are the alternative names for Ecthyma?

Streptococcus - ecthyma; Strep - ecthyma; Staphylococcus - ecthyma; Staph - ecthyma; Skin infection - ecthyma

What are the causes for Ecthyma?

Ecthyma is most often caused by the streptococcus bacteria. Sometimes, staphylococcus bacteria cause this skin infection on its own or in combination with streptococcus.

The infection may start in skin that has been injured due to a scratch, rash, or insect bite. The infection often develops on the legs. People with diabetes or a weakened immune system are more prone to ecthyma.

What are the symptoms for Ecthyma?

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

After the blister goes away, a crusty ulcer appears.

What are the current treatments for Ecthyma?

Your provider will usually prescribe antibiotics that you need to take by mouth (oral antibiotics). Very early cases may be treated with antibiotics that you apply to the affected area (topical antibiotics). Serious infections may need antibiotics given through a vein (intravenous antibiotics).

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

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Ecthyma?

Ecthyma can sometimes result in scarring.

What are the possible complications for Ecthyma?

This condition may lead to:

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

When should I contact a medical professional for Ecthyma?

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

How do I prevent Ecthyma?

Carefully clean the skin after an injury, such as a bite or scratch. Do not scratch or pick at scabs and sores.



James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Bacterial infections. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2020:chap 14.

Pasternack MS, Swartz MN. Cellulitis, necrotizing fasciitis, and subcutaneous tissue infections. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 95.

There are no recent clinical trials available for this condition. Please check back because new trials are being conducted frequently.