Illnesses and infections
- C. difficile (Clostridium difficile)
- Colds in children
- Common infections and your child
- Croup (laryngitis)
- Dehydration and diarrhea in children: Prevention and treatment
- Ear infections
- Febrile seizures
- Fever and temperature taking
- Fifth disease (Erythema Infectiosum)
- Hand, foot and mouth disease
- Head lice
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Influenza in children
- Meningococcal disease
- Pertussis (Whooping cough)
- Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis)
- Pneumococcal infections
- RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus)
- Strep throat
- Urinary tract infections
Tests and treatments
- A parent’s guide to the participation of children and teens in medical education
- Fever and temperature taking
- Health research in children: What parents need to know
- How to make sure antibiotics are the right choice
- Making treatment decisions for babies, children and teens
- Natural health products and children
- Planning care for children and youth with serious medical conditions
- Reducing the danger of infection for children with spleen problems
- Testing for HIV during pregnancy
- Using over-the-counter drugs to treat cold symptoms
- When your child needs a red blood cell transfusion
Vaccines for children and youth
- A parent’s guide to immunization information on the Internet
- MMR vaccine: Myths and facts
- Reduce the pain of vaccination in babies: A guide for parents
- Reduce the pain of vaccination in children and teens: A guide for parents
- Vaccination and your child
- Vaccine safety
- Your Child's Best Shot: A parent's guide to vaccination
What is impetigo?
Impetigo is a common childhood skin infection that is usually caused by bacteria called group A streptococcal (strep) or Staphylococcus aureus (staph). Infection happens when the bacteria get into scrapes and insect bites.
Having impetigo does not mean someone is not clean. It often affects preschool and school-aged children, especially those whose skin has already been irritated or who have other skin problems like eczema or poison ivy.
What does impetigo look like?
Impetigo usually appears around the mouth, nose or on skin that’s not covered by clothes. The rash can start as a cluster of red bumps or blisters. Eventually the blisters may ooze or be covered with a honey-coloured crust. Many germs live under this crust.
Sometimes the infection can become serious. If this happens, your child may have fever, pain, swelling, and may feel weak.
How is it passed?
Direct contact: Impetigo can spread when someone touches an impetigo rash.
Indirect contact: The germs can get on bed sheets, towels or clothing that have been in contact with someone’s skin. Then a person can pick up the germs from touching those objects.
How is it diagnosed?
Your doctor can usually diagnose impetigo by looking at it. If your doctor is unsure, she will gently swab the sore to test for germs.
How is it treated?
Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. These will be taken orally (by the mouth) or spread on the skin as an ointment (cream). If you think your child has impetigo, contact your doctor.
If your child has impetigo:
- Keep the sores covered with a dressing (light gauze).
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially after touching infected skin.
- Don’t share face cloths or towels among family members.
- Keep your child home from child care or school until he has taken the antibiotic for at least one full day.
- Make sure your child takes all the medication prescribed by your doctor, even if you don’t see the rash or any sign of infection anymore.
Source: Well Beings: A Guide to Health in Child Care (3rd edition, 2008)
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
Public Education Advisory Committee
Last Updated: June 2013