Impetigo is a common and contagious skin disease that most commonly affects children, especially those ages 2 to 5. Bacteria infect the outer layers of skin, resulting in red sores on the face, arms, and legs. Impetigo tends to be seasonal, peaking in the summer in northern climates. In warm and humid climates, it tends to occur year-round. It is treated with antibiotics and problems usually disappear within a few weeks.


APPOTEK can help you with Impetigo.


Impetigo is an infection of the skin that is usually caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes. These bacteria infect the outer layers of skin, called the epidermis. The face, behind the ears, arms, and legs are most often affected.


The sores are contagious – either direct contact with someone who is infected or touching something that someone with impetigo has handled, can infect you. Impetigo can also be spread by bathwater. If you have eczema or irritated skin, you are more likely to get infected.


Impetigo can look different in different people. Some only get irritated and red skin; others get red sores, blisters and honey-colored scabs.


As a rule, the sores first appear as small red dots and then develop into fluid-filled, itchy blisters. The sore breaks, dries and forms a yellowish-brown scab. The most common location of sores is the face, (behind the ears, around the nose or mouth)  but they can also appear on the other parts of the body. 


The sores can be itchy and occasionally painful. After the crust phase, they form red marks that fade without leaving scars.


The infection often begins in minor cuts, insect bites, or a rash such as eczema — any place where the skin is broken. But it can also occur on healthy skin. It’s called primary impetigo when it infects healthy skin and secondary impetigo when it occurs in broken skin. 


Babies sometimes have a less common type of impetigo, with larger blisters around the diaper area or in skin folds. These fluid-filled blisters soon burst, leaving a scaly rim called a collarette.


Impetigo can be uncomfortable. Occasionally, it may involve swollen glands in the area of the outbreak, or a fever.

Prevention and protection

The sores are contagious as long as they are moist. Therefore it is important to follow this procedure 4 times a day:


  1. Wash the sores with soap and water – when the blisters are wet and no longer solid, you can remove them.
  2. Then wash them with a copious amount of chlorhexidine solution and allow them to air dry.
  3. Lubricate the cups with the mupirocin ointment.


How to avoid spreading the infection:


  • wash / spray your hands frequently
  • use paper towels in the toilet and in the kitchen 
  • change bedding daily and bath towels after each shower
  • wash your clothes every day (and toys also, if you have children)
  • keep door handles clean.


Impetigo in children: Children should stay home from school until the sores are completely dry and no new ones form. Remember that toys and fabrics can also be contagious.


Generally impetigo is treated with antibiotics. Which type of antibiotic depends on how widespread or severe the blisters are.


If you have impetigo in only a small area of your skin, topical antibiotics are the preferred treatment. Options include mupirocin cream or ointment and retapamulin ointment.


If your impetigo is severe or widespread, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics. These may work more quickly than topical antibiotics, but they aren’t necessarily better at clearing the infection. Oral antibiotics can also cause more side effects than topical antibiotics, such as nausea.


With treatment, impetigo usually heals in 7 to 10 days. If you have an underlying infection or skin disease, the infection may take longer to heal. It is important to remember to maintain good hygiene and to always keep the sores clean and covered, through treatment until full recovery, to prevent contagion.

When to consult a doctor

It’s a good idea to see your doctor if you suspect impetigo. Your doctor can usually diagnose the infection by its appearance.


If the sores don’t clear up with treatment, the doctor may want to culture the bacteria. This involves taking a little bit of the liquid that comes out of the sore and testing it to see what type of bacteria caused it to determine which antibiotics will work best against it.


If you have impetigo with a general weakness and a high fever, you should contact your doctor immediately. This also applies to frequent, recurring cases of infection.

How APPOTEK can help

APPOTEK can help you with impetigo. A nurse or doctor will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms during the online consultation. You may then be then prescribed antibiotics or referred for further examination.


Valeria Chernikova, Neurologist, M.D.