Does this describe your child's symptoms?
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Impetigo of Left Cheek
Impetigo of Elbow
- Bacterial skin infection causing 1 or more coin-shaped sores
- Sores smaller than 1 inch in diameter
- Often covered by a soft, yellow-brown scab or crust
- Scabs may intermittently drain pus
- Begin as small red bumps which rapidly change to cloudy blisters, then pimples, and finally open sores which weep
- Increases in size (any sore or wound that grows and doesn't heal is usually impetigo)
- Impetigo often spreads and increases in number from scratching
- Superficial bacterial infections of small breaks in the skin
- The most common bacteria are Staph and Strep
Return to School
- For mild impetigo (1 or 2 sores), child can attend school or child care if it is covered
- For severe impetigo, child needs to take an oral antibiotic for more than 24 hours before returning to school or contact sports
If not, see these topics
|Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If|
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- Red or cola-colored urine
- Red streak runs from the impetigo
- Red tender area surrounds the impetigo
- You think your child needs to be seen urgently
|Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If|
- You think your child needs to be seen, but not urgently
- Fever or sore throat are present
- Large sore (larger than 1 inch across or 2.5 cm)
- Sores and crusts are also inside the nose
- Impetigo becomes worse after 48 hours on antibiotic ointment
|Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If|
- You have other questions or concerns
- Impetigo in 2 or more children (e.g., sibs, childcare groups)
- Child plays contact sports (Reason: to prevent spread)
- 3 or more impetigo sores (Reason: may need an oral antibiotic because many of these children also have strep throat infection)
- Not completely healed after 1 week on antibiotic ointment
|Parent Care at Home If|
- 1 or 2 impetigo sores that started with cut, scratch or insect bite and you don't think your child needs to be seen (Reason: probably will respond to antibiotic ointment)
HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MILD IMPETIGO
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
- Impetigo is a superficial skin infection that usually starts in a scratch or insect bite.
- It usually responds to treatment with any antibiotic ointment.
- Remove Scabs: Soak off the scab using an antibacterial soap and warm water. The bacteria live underneath the scab.
- Antibiotic Ointment: Apply an antibiotic ointment 3 times per day (no prescription needed).
- Examples are Bacitracin or Polysporin or 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.
- Avoid Picking: Discourage scratching and picking which spreads the impetigo.
- Impetigo is contagious by skin to skin contact.
- Wash the hands frequently and avoid touching the sore.
- For mild impetigo (1 or 2 sores), can attend school or child care if it is covered.
- For severe impetigo, child needs to take an oral antibiotic for more than 24 hours before returning to school.
- Contact Sports: Generally, needs to receive antibiotic treatment for 3 days before returning to the sport. There can be no pus or drainage. Check with team's trainer if there is one.
- Expected Course: Sore stops growing in 1 to 2 days and skin is healed in 1 week.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- Impetigo increases in size after 48 hours on antibiotic ointment
- New impetigo sore occurs on antibiotic ointment
- Not completely healed in 1 week
- Your child becomes worse
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 9/15/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.