Impetigo is a common skin infection that often affects children. It is a contagious bacterial infection.
Staphylococcus bacteria live on the skin and are mostly harmless, but they can cause an infection if they enter damaged skin.
Another bacterium called Streptococcus can also cause impetigo. This bacteria can spread from person to person by skin contact, touching objects, or sneezing and coughing.
Impetigo most commonly affects the face, particularly the area around the nose and mouth, but it can affect any part of the body where the skin is broken. This includes the scalp. Impetigo can also spread from the original site to other areas of the body.
Impetigo causes red sores on the skin that burst, leaving a yellow-brown crust. It can also cause large, fluid-filled blisters that break open and leave a sore. These sores and blisters often itch and can be painful.
Impetigo is highly contagious. A person can avoid passing on the infection by staying away from school or work, washing their hands often, and covering sores or blisters with a bandage.
A doctor can prescribe an antibiotic cream to treat impetigo. A person applies this cream directly to the affected areas of skin. Signs of impetigo should clear up in around a week.
Sometimes, a person may need to take antibiotic tablets. In rare cases, a doctor may recommend antibiotic injections.