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Impetigo is a skin infection caused by bacteria. The infection can cause sores to form anywhere on your body. The sores develop watery or pus-filled blisters that break and form thick crusts. Impetigo is most common in children and spreads easily from person to person.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have painful, red, warm skin around the blisters.
  • Your face is swollen.
  • You urinate less than usual or there is blood in your urine.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • The sores become more red, swollen, warm, or tender.
  • The sores do not start to heal after 3 days of treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Antibiotics treat the bacterial infection. Antibiotics may be given as a pill or cream. Wash your skin and gently remove any crusts before you apply the antibiotic cream.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Prevent the spread of impetigo:

  • Avoid direct contact. You can spread impetigo if someone touches or uses something that touched your infected skin. You can also spread impetigo on your own body when you touch the area and then touch somewhere else. Keep the sores covered with gauze so you will not scratch or touch them. Keep your fingernails short. Your child may need to wear mittens so he does not scratch his sores.
  • Wash your hands often. Always wash your hands after you touch the infected area. Wash your hands before you touch food, your eyes, or other people. If no water is available, use an alcohol-based gel to clean your hands.
  • Wash household items. Do not share or reuse items that have come in contact with impetigo sores. Examples include bedding, towels, washcloths, and eating utensils. These items may be used again after they have been washed with hot water and soap.

Clean your sores safely:

Wash your skin sores with antibacterial soap and water. You may need to do this 2 to 3 times each day until the sores heal. If the area is crusted, gently wash the sores with gauze or a clean washcloth to remove the crust. Pat the area dry with a clean towel. Wash your hands, the washcloth, and the towel after you clean the area around the sores.

Return to work or school:

You may return to work or school 48 hours after you start the antibiotic medicine. If your child has impetigo, tell his school or daycare center about the infection.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Impetigo (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.