Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Kids
Impi-what? Impetigo (say: im-pih-TIE-go) is a strange-sounding word that may be new to you. It’s an infection of the skin caused by bacteria. Impetigo is commonly found on the face, often around the nose and mouth. But it can show up anywhere the skin has been broken.
If you have a cut or scrape or if you scratch your skin because of a bug bite, eczema, or poison ivy, germs may find a way to get inside. Once inside, the bacteria cause small blisters on the skin. These blisters burst and ooze fluid that crusts over, a condition called impetigo.
Kids seem to get it more than adults do, but impetigo can affect anyone.
We all have bacteria living on our skin and in our nose, but most of the time they don’t cause any trouble. Two types of bacteria can cause impetigo: group A streptococcus (say strep-toe-KAH-kus) and Staphylococcus aureus (say: stah-fih-lo-KAH-kus OR-ee-us). It doesn’t matter which bacteria cause someone’s impetigo — the treatment is almost the same.
Impetigo usually starts as small blisters that burst and ooze fluid that crusts over. The crust is yellow-brown, or honey-colored, making impetigo look different from other scabs.
Another kind of impetigo affects babies and younger kids more than older kids. In this type, the blisters are larger and take longer to burst. The fluid in these blisters may start out clear and then turn cloudy.
If you and your parents think you have impetigo, you should see a doctor. A doctor usually can tell if you have impetigo by examining your skin. If you have mild impetigo, your doctor probably will prescribe an antibiotic ointment, which gets put right on your skin. An antibiotic is a type of medicine that attacks bacteria.
If the impetigo has spread to a few places or if the antibiotic ointment is not working, you may need to take an antibiotic pill or liquid for about 10 days. Remember: It’s important to finish ALL of the medicine, even if the spots clear up quickly.
Impetigo might itch, but try not to scratch or touch the sores. Touching them can spread the sores to other parts of your body or to someone else. If you do touch the area, be sure to wash your hands right away.
Your mom or dad can help you apply the ointment or take the medicine your doctor prescribed. Your parent also can help you gently wash the infected areas with mild soap and water, using a piece of clean gauze.
If a sore is very crusted, you can soak it in warm, soapy water to loosen the crust. You don’t have to get it all off, but try to keep it clean. Your parent also might help you cover the sores with gauze and tape or a loose plastic bandage.
Impetigo is contagious, which means that you could spread it to other people. That’s why people with impetigo should keep the sores covered when they go to school or other public places. After you take the medicine for least 24 hours, the impetigo isn’t contagious anymore. After 3 days, the sores should begin to heal.
Your mom or dad should call the doctor if you develop a fever or if you don’t get better after taking the medicine for a few days. Your parent should call the doctor right away if skin around the impetigo sore becomes red, warm, swollen, or painful if you touch it.
If someone in your family or a friend has impetigo, don’t touch that person’s skin. Also steer clear of his or her clothes, towels, sheets, and pillows. The bacteria that cause impetigo can live on all these things. Your parent should wash these items in very hot water.
And here are some good habits that can help you avoid getting impetigo in the first place:
Just about everyone has had one of these on their knee. Find out how scabs help you heal.
Everybody has dry skin once in a while, but eczema is more than just that. If your skin is dry, itchy, red, sore, and scaly, you may have eczema. Learn more about this uncomfortable condition and what you can to do stop itching!
What are fevers? Why do kids get them? Get the facts on temperatures and fevers in this article for kids.
You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.