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Impetigo Treatment/School Sores

Updated on September 30, 2012

Impetigo Causes

Quick glance:

  1. A contagious skin condition caused by staphylococcus aureus or streptococcus pyogenes bacteria.
  2. Symptoms occur 4 -10 days after exposure to bacteria
  3. Most common in children 2-5 years – usually noticed around nose and mouth
  4. Presents small fluid filled blisters, weep honey coloured fluid, which crusts with red sores.
  5. Impetigo treatment - anti-biotic therapy

What is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a contagious skin condition that most commonly affects children between the ages of 2 – 5 years old. Children are more susceptible due to their immature immune systems.

Impetigo Symptoms occur 4-10 days after exposure to the bacteria. This can make it easy to pass on without realising you have been infected.

What causes Impetigo?

Impetigo is caused by either the bacteria staphylcocus aureus and/or streptococcus pyogenes (more common in warmer climates). The bacteria can live quite happily on most people’s skin, but when the skin integrity is disrupted the bacteria enters and causes the skin condition.

Non Bullous Impetigo

Red sores are usually found around the mouth and nose. They may also appear on other parts of the face as well as the legs and arms.

The sores start off as tiny papules, similar to an insect bite, which then develops into a small blister. The blister then bursts open discharging a honey coloured fluid which dries into a crust, leaving a red mark on the skin. Most impetigo sores are superficial and do not leave any permanent scarring.

Some individuals will have swollen but non-tender lymph glands.

This is impetigo is usually found in individuals over 2 years of age and is the most common type of impetigo.

Bullous Impetigo

Small fluid filled blisters usually appear on the trunk of the body (waist up ) and on the buttocks. The blisters leave a crust which usually heals without scarring.

The red sores usually heal between a few days and a few weeks.

The individual may experience fever and swollen, tender lymph glands.

Primary Impetigo – is when the bacteria penetrates healthy skin through an insect bite, cut or graze in the skin. Young children are particularly susceptible when they have colds and the skin integrity is disrupted due to sores and grazing in the nasal passage.

Secondary Impetigo – is when the bacteria penetrates the skin through an underlying skin condition such as eczema or scabies.

Impetigo Treatment

Avoid touching the affected area.

Hand hygiene – ensure hands are washed before and after meals, applying any treatment. Warm soapy water should be used and the hands rinsed and dried thoroughly.

Face flannels and towels should not be shared amongst individuals.

Any toys that are washable should be washed in the washing machine or wiped down.

Children should be kept off nursery/school until the last blister has dried up or until 48hrs of antibiotic treatment has a commenced. The area should also be covered.

Anti-biotic cream such as Bactroban (Mupirocin) may be used. Most ‘over the counter’ topical lotions are not effective.

Oral antibiotics may be needed if advised by your health care provider. A seven day course is usually prescribed which should be completed.

When does it stop being infectious?

Either when the last blister has completely dried up or within 48hrs of taking oral antibiotic therapy.

Is it painful?

It is not usually painful, especially in children but can be very itchy making it easy to spread across other areas of the skin.

Impetigo in Adults

Adults may also experience impetigo if they have any broken area of skin where bacteria can enter. Adults living in warm and humid climates are more likely to experience this.

Do I need to see my Doctor?

It is a good idea to visit your health care provider to confirm the diagnosis as there are several skin conditions that are similar in appearance to impetigo.

Anti-biotic therapy is becoming more resistant to bugs so it’s important that you are given the correct one. This may been having a swab taken of the infected area.

Can impetigo be prevented?

Good hand hygiene is probably the best way of preventing impetigo spreading amongst individuals.

Covering up sores and getting treatment quickly may prevent it spreading to other family members.

Ensure flannels, towels, toys are not shared amongst family members.


Note: The guide is not meant to be fully comprehensive and is meant for information only. The author makes no guarantee, either expressed or implied, regarding the efficacy or use for any reason of the information contained within this article.


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