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Impetigo

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that often starts with red sores on the face or hands. It’s common in children.

Impetigo causes red sores or blisters that burst and leave crusty, golden-brown patches. They can look a bit like cornflakes stuck to your skin.

Impetigo is treated with antibiotics from a GP. You'll need to take care not to spread the infection to other people while you have it.

You’re more likely to get impetigo if you have damaged skin from a cut, insect bite or a skin condition like eczema.

Read more on the NHS website.

Impetigo causes red sores or blisters that burst and leave crusty, golden-brown patches. They can look a bit like cornflakes stuck to your skin.

Check if you have impetigo

Impetigo starts with red sores or blisters. They quickly burst and leave crusty, golden-brown patches.

These can:

Impetigo scabs on a young child's faceSores (non-bullous impetigo) or blisters (bullous impetigo) can start anywhere – but usually on exposed areas like your face and hands.

Impetigo blisters on a young child's torsoIt's also common for blisters to start around your tummy.

Impetigo patches on a young child's handThe sores or blisters burst and form crusty patches.

Read more on the NHS website.

Impetigo is treated with antibiotics from a GP. You'll need to take care not to spread the infection to other people while you have it.

Medical treatments

A GP will check it's not something more serious, like cellulitis.

If it's impetigo, they can prescribe antibiotic cream to speed up your recovery or antibiotic tablets if it's very bad.

Important

Do not stop using the antibiotic cream or tablets early, even if the impetigo starts to clear up.

If your impetigo keeps coming back

A GP can take a swab from around your nose to check for the bacteria that causes impetigo.

They might prescribe an antiseptic nasal cream to try to clear the bacteria and stop the impetigo coming back.

Self-care

Impetigo can easily spread to other parts of your body or to other people until it stops being contagious.

It stops being contagious:

  • 48 hours after you start using the medicine your GP prescribed
  • when the patches dry out and crust over (if you do not get treatment)

You can do some things to help stop it spreading or getting worse while it's still contagious:


Do

  • stay away from school or work
  • keep sores, blisters and crusty patches clean and dry
  • cover them with loose clothing or gauze bandages
  • wash your hands frequently
  • wash your flannels, sheets and towels at a high temperature
  • wash or wipe down toys with detergent and warm water if your children have impetigo

Don't

  • do not touch or scratch sores, blisters or crusty patches – this also helps stop scarring
  • do not have close contact with children or people with diabetes or a weakened immune system (if they're having chemotherapy, for example)
  • do not share flannels, sheets or towels
  • do not prepare food for other people
  • do not go to the gym
  • do not play contact sports like football

Read more on the NHS website.

You’re more likely to get impetigo if you have damaged skin from a cut, insect bite or a skin condition like eczema.

Read more on the NHS website.