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Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is impetigo?

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.

How is impetigo diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your sores. A sample of fluid from one of your sores may show which bacteria is causing your infection.

How is impetigo treated?

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.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How do I prevent the spread of impetigo?

How do I clean my 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.

When is it safe to 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.

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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