Impetigo is a common bacterial skin infection.  Although it can occur anywhere, it is most common on the face, arms and legs.  It often develops in areas where there has been an injury such as an insect bite, a cut, or other trauma.  It is most common in children under 2 years of age, but may be seen in children of all ages as well as in adults.

Impetigo usually starts as a red area of skin that rapidly increases in size, may form a blister or pustule or ooze, then quickly crusts over.  There may be mild associated pain or pruritus.

Impetigo is highly contagious, and is easily spread by contact with an infected person or by contact with items that an infected person has been touching or playing with.

Treatment consists of use of appropriate topical antibiotics and good skin care.  Occasionally, antibiotics may need to be taken by mouth if the infection is severe.

  • The affected areas should be washed daily with soap or cleanser; soaking may help to remove crusting.
  • Use of an antibacterial soap or cleanser may be helpful in minimizing transmission of the infection.
  • An antibiotic ointment should be applied twice daily or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • When possible, the affected area should be covered with a clean bandage.
  • In general, children with impetigo are restricted from school and daycare for 24 hours after initiation of antibiotic therapy.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if the impetigo is not improving within two to three days of starting treatment.

In addition, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Keep your child’s nails short to prevent further damage and discourage your child from scratching or picking at his or her skin.
  • Encourage your child to use an antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer frequently.
  • Wash any cuts or other areas of skin trauma immediately, apply a topical antibiotic twice daily, and keep area covered with a clean bandage.
  • Wash clothes, linens and towels regularly and don’t share between family members.

Last Updated 03/2016