Disseminated bullous impetigo and atopic dermatitis: Case series and literature review

Diana Mannschreck, Jessica Feig, Jaqueline Selph, Bernard Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Bullous impetigo (BI) is a common skin infection of early childhood, resulting from desmoglein-1 cleavage by Staphylococcus aureus exfoliative toxins. Due to compromised barrier function and immune dysregulation, children with atopic dermatitis (AD) are at increased risk of cutaneous infections, yet no literature has been published on disseminated bullous impetigo (DBI) in children with atopic dermatitis (AD). We sought to explore the atopic phenotypes, antibiotic sensitivities, and treatment courses of children diagnosed with disseminated bullous impetigo at our institution. Methods: We conducted a retrospective case series of 12 children diagnosed with disseminated bullous impetigo at Johns Hopkins from 12/2016 to 5/2017. Results: Eleven children (92%) had severe AD. All children were initially misdiagnosed; the majority (67%) were misdiagnosed with AD flares, and other misdiagnoses included scabies, eczema herpeticum, ecthyma, varicella, and eczema coxsackium. All cultures were positive for methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA). Three children (25%) had clindamycin-resistant strains of MSSA, and only one child was positive for both MSSA and methicillin-resistant S aureus. All children were treated with systemic antibiotics and experienced resolution of symptoms within 24-48 hours. Conclusions: This case series is the first of its kind exploring children with DBI with the atopic diathesis. Our results indicate that DBI is often misdiagnosed, and increased training is likely needed for pediatricians, emergency room physicians, and dermatologists. Earlier diagnosis of bullous impetigo may prevent dissemination and spare a patient treatment with systemic antibiotics. Given the high rate of clindamycin resistance observed in this series, we recommend cephalosporins to treat uncomplicated cases of DBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-108
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • atopic dermatitis
  • disseminated bullous impetigo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Dermatology


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