Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Impetigo - Infected Sores

Definition

  • Coin-shaped sores on the skin
  • Covered by scabs or crusts that are the color of honey
  • Skin infection caused by a bacteria

Call or Return If

  • Impetigo sore gets bigger after 48 hours on antibiotic ointment
  • Gets new impetigo sore on antibiotic ointment
  • Not healed up in 1 week
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • Sores smaller than 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • Often covered by a soft, yellow-brown scab or crust
  • Scabs may drain pus or yellow fluid off and on
  • Starts as small red bumps. These change quickly to cloudy blisters or pimples. Then, they become open sores which drain fluid or pus.
  • Sores increase in size
  • Any sore or wound that grows and doesn't heal is usually impetigo.

Cause

  • A skin infection caused by a bacteria. It starts in a small break in the skin. Examples are a scratch or insect bite.
  • The most common bacteria are Staph and Strep.
  • Impetigo often spreads and increases in number from scratching.

Prevention of Spread to Others

  • Impetigo is spread to others by skin to skin contact.
  • Wash the hands often. Try not to touch the sores.

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection. Most often, it starts in a scratch or insect bite.
  • It usually responds to treatment with any antibiotic ointment.
  • Sometimes an oral antibiotic is needed.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Remove Scabs:
  • Soak off the scab using soap and warm water. The bacteria live underneath the scab.
Antibiotic Ointment:
  • Put an antibiotic ointment on the sores. Do this 3 times per day.
  • Examples are Bacitracin or Polysporin. No prescription is needed. You also can use one you already have.
  • Cover it with a Band-Aid to prevent scratching and spread.
  • Repeat the washing, ointment and Band-Aid 3 times per day.
Antibiotic by Mouth:
  • Some types of impetigo need a prescription antibiotic to clear it up.
  • The antibiotic will kill the bacteria that are causing the skin infection.
  • Give the antibiotic as directed.
  • Try not to forget any of the doses.
Do Not Pick at the Sores:
  • Help your child not to scratch and pick at the sores. This spreads the impetigo.
What to Expect:
  • Sore stops growing in 1 to 2 days.
  • The skin is healed in 1 week.
Return to School:
  • Impetigo is spread to others by skin to skin contact.
  • Wash the hands often. Try not to touch the sores.
  • For mild impetigo (1 or 2 sores), can go to school if it is covered.
  • For severe impetigo, child needs to take an oral antibiotic for more than 24 hours. Then your child can go back to school.
  • Contact Sports. In general, needs to be on antibiotics for 3 days before returning to sports. There must be no pus or drainage. Check with the team's trainer if there is one.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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