What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a highly contagious and common skin disease caused by a bacterial infection. It is mostly caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. In some rarer cases, the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria causes the illness.

The illness is very infectious and, occasionally, if the infection spreads into the deeper layers of the skin, it causes cellulitis.

What does impetigo look like?

• Initially, small, red itchy spots appear, usually starting on the face.
• They are especially noticeable around the corners of the mouth as a mouth infection, on the nose and behind the ears.
• These spots rapidly develop into blisters with a yellowy, golden-coloured fluid inside.
• The existing patch then spreads outwards into other smaller patches.
• The top surfaces of the blisters then form crusts that weep, with newer blisters emerging either in the same place or on other areas of the body.
• The result is a yellow crusting often around the mouth and nose area.


How is impetigo treated?

Impetigo often clears by itself in around three weeks. However, treatment is recommended because it is a highly contagious condition.

Impetigo is usually treated with a bactericidal ointment (an ointment that kills bacteria). Sometimes, if the illness is severe, an antibiotic will be given for the skin infection.

When can my child go back to school/preschool?

When the scabs have fallen off and the condition is no longer contagious, preschool children can then return to either nursery school or playgroup.

If topical treatment is given (an ointment), then schoolchildren can normally go back to classes one week following the start of the treatment. If oral antibiotics are given, then they can return 48 hours after starting the antibiotic therapy.