Children Impetigo - Symptoms and Treatment

Impetigo : Contagious Skin Infection in Children

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 6 Nov 2014 - 16:29.


Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection often seen in pre & school going children. However, babies are not immune from this disease which can affect even an infant if in contact with an infected child.

It could be either a streptococcus or a Staphylococcus bacterium that causes this infection. When the child comes in contact with an infected patient, the bacteria finds its way to the baby through any cold sores, cuts or scrapes, eczematous rash or any other area where your child’s skin is damaged or sensitive. The infection can spread even by touching any toy, towel, pillow or a handle, used by the infected child.

It is easy to identify the condition in your baby if you notice blisters on the skin of the baby. However,there are two types of bacteria which can infect the baby and the blisters differ in each type of infection.

If it is due to streptococcus type of bacteria, the baby will have tiny blisters that burst easily and expose a wet, reddish skin underneath the burst blister. If the infection is due to staphylococcus bacteria the blisters are usually large and more resilient. As the skin gets dried up, a scabby tan or a crust which is yellowish brown in color is formed over the tender area which resembles a coating with honey and leads to intense itching.

Nose and the area over the mouth are the common sites where the blisters usually appear. However, they can spread to other parts of the body. The baby may have slight rise in temperature associated with enlarged lymph nodes in the face or neck.

Treatment: If the impetigo infection is ignored without any treatment, the baby could develop a rare but serious condition called glomerulo-nephritis that involves the kidneys leading to high blood pressure and bleeding in the urine.

Treatment for impetigo always involves use of an appropriate antibiotic depending upon the type of bacteria which has caused the infection. If it is due to streptococcus, your pediatrician will use some form of penicillin. He may use other forms of antibiotics if the infection is due to staphylococcus. 

Whichever antibiotic is used it should be remembered that a full course as directed by the doctor must be completed to avoid recurrence of the infection. Your doctor may also advise the use of an antibiotic cream over the affected skin.

It is essential to keep the infected skin clean with soap and water, twice a day. The scabs should be washed gently with any antiseptic lotion taking care that the child is not allergic to its use. After washing the affected area allow them to dry and apply the antibiotic cream if advised by your doctor. You should always trim the nails of your baby to avoid scratching and in turn preventing infection to healthy areas.

Make it a point to consult your doctor if you notice that the infection has recurred in the baby despite treatment. The doctor may advise change in the antibiotics.

If your baby has impetigo and doesn’t get treated she continues to be highly contagious to others. However, if the baby is treated and the rash begins to clear, she is no longer contagious. Nevertheless,the baby has to stay at home to avoid infecting other kids

If the child has impetigo, he/she mustbe treated immediately and the parent must also observe the following guidelines:

  • All the inmates in the house must observe strict hygienic measures like washing hands with an antiseptic lotion after handling an infected child.
  • If your child goes to a daycare center, better keep her out of it and avoid other kids from contact, till your child is on antibiotics at least for two days.
  • Don’t allow any of your family members to use any item used by the child like soaps, towels or hair brushes.
  • If you can afford you may use paper towels on your baby which can be thrown into a covered trash can.
  • Always trim the nails of your child to avoid scratching and infecting fresh area.

Following the above guidelines will not only help your child to get well faster but also preventing infection in others.

*Disclaimer This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.