Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection. It can develop in any skin injury, such as an insect bite, cut, or break in the skin. It can develop as a result of irritation caused by a runny nose from the mucus or from excessive, vigorous wiping with a tissue.

A child can spread the infection to other parts of his body by scratching. They can spread the germs to others in close contact by directly touching them. Also, germs can spread touching a surface that another child touches.

Impetigo can occur anytime of the year and is commonly spread in schools, day cares, and camps.

What to Look For:

  • Red pimples
  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Oozing rash covered by crusted yellow scabs

What You Should Do:

  1. Call child’s medical provider for a treatment plan.
  2. Clean infected area with soap and water. Try to gently remove crusty scabs.
  3. Cover infected area loosely. The scabs need airflow for healing. Covering also helps prevent contact that would spread the infection to others or to other parts of the child’s body.
  4. Keep sores covered until they are healed.
  5. Wash hands well after treating sores.
  6. Try to keep your child from scratching.
  7. Trim the child’s fingernails.
  8. Do not permit sharing of towels or face cloths.
  9. Observe the rash. Notice whether it improves or gets worse.

Other Caregivers Should:

  • Tell parents if you notice a child has signs of impetigo.
  • If the child cannot be picked up promptly, wash the affected area with soap and water. Then cover any exposed sores until the parents can arrange to remove the child for treatment.
  • In the event that more than one child in a group has been infected, contact the health department about control measures.

When A Child May Return to School or Child Care:

  • Twenty-four hours after treatment is started with an antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotic medicine.
  • The child may return when he feels well enough to do regular activities. If your child needs special care, the staff should decide if they can provide the care while still taking care of the other children in the group.


  • The bacteria that cause impetigo thrive in breaks in the skin. The best ways to prevent this rash are to keep your child’s fingernails clipped and clean and to teach him not to scratch minor skin irritations. When they do have a scrape, cleanse it with soap and water, and apply an antibiotic cream or ointment. Be careful not to use washcloths or towels that have been used by someone else who has an active skin infection.
  • When certain types of strep bacteria cause impetigo, a rare but serious complication called glomerulonephritis can develop. This disease injures the kidney and may cause high blood pressure and blood to pass in the urine. Therefore, if you notice any blood or dark brown color in your child’s urine, let your pediatrician know so they can evaluate it and order further tests if needed.

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Source: American Academy of Pediatrics and Boca VIPediatrics