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Impetigo

Impetigo is a skin condition caused by a bacteria. Although it can occur at any age, it’s very common in children. It’s also highly infectious, so spreads very easily from person to person.

  • Red patches on the skin
  • Sores and blisters
  • A yellow-golden crust

Impetigo can occur anywhere on the body, but it’s most commonly found on the face, around the nose or mouth.

Impetigo is treated with an antibiotic cream which is applied to the rash. This can be prescribed by a GP.

If the infection is severe, or is spreading or worsening despite already using a topical antibiotic cream, oral antibiotics may be prescribed.

There are things you can do to prevent the infection spreading to other parts of the body, or to other people:

  • Avoid scratching the rash or sores
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after every time you touch the rash
  • Wash flannels and face cloths, bed sheets and towels at high temperatures
  • Avoid sharing towels or face cloths with other people within the household
  • Avoid contact sports
  • If able to do so, cover the rash lightly with a clean, dry gauze or bandage

For impetigo in children:

  • Take the above measures to prevent infection spreading
  • Wash or wipe down toys with detergent and warm water
  • Avoid playgroups or playdates with other children

If you suspect you or your child may have impetigo, you should see a GP to confirm the diagnosis and be prescribed the right treatment.

Afterwards, see a GP if:

  • The rash has not improved within a week of using your prescribed medication
  • The rash is spreading or becoming painful, swollen or leaking discharge – despite using the treatment prescribed by your GP
  • You feel unwell (for instance if you have a temperature or feel dizzy, shivery and weak)
  • You have a compromised immune system (if you’re on immunosuppression medication or chemotherapy)
Last updated:
12 Nov 2020
Reviewed by:
Dr Rhianna McClymont , Lead GP at Livi