Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection. It can develop in any skin injury, such as an insect bite, cut, or break in the skin. It can develop as a result of irritation caused by a runny nose.

A child can spread the infection to other parts of his body by scratching. He can spread the germs to others in close contact by directly touching them. He can spread the germs by touching a surface that another child touches.

Impetigo can occur anytime. It is most common in warm weather when cuts and scrapes from outdoor play are more likely.

What to Look For: 

  • Red pimples 
  • Fluid-filled blisters 
  • Oozing rash covered by crusted yellow scabs

What You Should Do: 

Parents or primary caregiver should

  1. Call child’s medical provider for a treatment plan. 
  2. Clean infected area with soap and water. Try to gently remove crusty scabs.
  3. Cover infected area loosely. The scabs need airflow for healing. Covering also helps prevent contact that would spread the infection to others or to other parts of the child’s body.
  4. Keep sores covered until they are healed.
  5. Wash hands well after treating sores.
  6. Try to keep your child from scratching.
  7. Trim the child’s fingernails.
  8. Do not permit sharing of towels or face cloths.
  9. Observe the rash. Notice whether it improves or gets worse.

Other Caregivers Should:

  • Tell parents if you notice a child has signs of impetigo.
  • If the child cannot be picked up promptly, wash the affected area with soap and water. Then cover any exposed sores until the parents can arrange to remove the child for treatment. 
  • In the event that more than one child in a group has been infected, contact the health department about control measures. The problem could involve antibiotic-resistant staphylococcal bacteria.

When A Child May Return to School or Child Care:

  • Twenty-four hours after treatment is started with an antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotic medicine. 
  • The child may return when he feels well enough to do regular activities. If your child needs special care, the staff should decide if they can provide the care while still taking care of the other children in the group.

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