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Impetigo – what is it?

It is a bacterial skin infection that presents as a red blistering, oozy and ultimately crusty rash which most often develops around the nose and mouth but can occur on any part of the skin. The oozy crust is often honey coloured.

Impetigo – what causes it?

Bacteria. The most common bacteria implicated are group A Streptococcus called strep, (the same one that can cause strep throats and rheumatic fever) and Staphylococcus aureaus called staph (pronounced staff).

Impetigo – who gets it?

Anyone can. Intact skin protects against bacterial infection. Skin which is broken, by cuts and scrapes, or is macerated, by runny noses and licking lips, is an ineffective barrier and bacteria can get below the skin and set up an infection.

Impetigo – how is it spread?

By direct contact. The bacteria are present in the skin lesions. Secretions from the rash are infectious. Hands that touch the area are readily contaminated and pass the infection along.

Impetigo – how is it diagnosed?

Impetigo can be diagnosed by looking at it. If necessary the bacteria can be grown from swabs of the skin rash.

Impetigo – how is it treated?

An antiseptic soap and an antibiotic ointment can be used to treat it. Sometimes an oral antibiotic is given.

Impetigo – should children be excluded?

If a child has impetigo, bring it to the parents attention at the end of the day. Advise them to visit their doctor and get treatment. The child should remain out of school until treatment is started.

Impetigo – when can children return?

As soon as they have received 24 hours of treatment.

Impetigo – how to stop spread?

Present impetigo developing, look after skin, clean all cuts and abrasions with soap and water and dry thoroughly. Keep runny noses dry. If impetigo is noticed on a child during school, wash and cover the lesion. Remember to wash your hands well after touching the lesion.

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