Impetigo (school sores)

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection caused by the “Staph” or “Strep” organism, or both. These bacteria may also live in the nose and throat without causing a problem.


Symptoms include:

  • May start as small red spots  or following insect bites
  • Spots grow to pus filled blisters with crusty tops
  • Usually itchy
  • Blisters may burst leaving red, wet skin which weeps or oozes

Contact your GP or Healthline (0800 611 116) for further advice.

How is it spread?

Crusts and fluid in the sores contain the bacteria. The sores are infectious as long as weeping or oozing. Impetigo spreads easily to other parts of the body and to other children.

It spreads through:

  • direct skin contact
  • contact with contaminated clothes, towels, face cloths, sponges or bedding
  • frequently used playthings or utensils.

How To Prevent Impetigo

  • Regular baths or showers with soap
  • Change into clean clothes regularly
  • Change bedding regularly
  • No sharing of clothes, towels or bedding with anyone with sores
  • Clean cuts, bites and scratches thoroughly using soap and water
  • Cover cuts or broken skin or sores with plasters
  • Keep fingernails short
  • Wash hands regularly, especially if have runny nose
  • Use insect repellant if needed to stop bites (do not use on sores)

How To Reduce the Spread of Impetigo

  •  Keep children with impetigo home from school, kindergarten or day care until they have had 24 hours of treatment.
  • Keep infected areas covered.
  • Wash child’s clothes, towels and bedding separately from the rest of the family
  • Daily bath or shower.
  • No swimming until all sores have healed
  • Children with impetigo should not share clothes, towels, face cloths or bedding with anyone.
  • Practice good hand washing, especially if you are in contact with someone with impetigo
  • See your Public Health Nurse, GP or Pharmacist for advice and/or treatment.
  • If oral antibiotics are prescribed it is important to finish the course.
  • Soak scabs or crusts off with warm water and antiseptic e.g. Savlon, or ½ tsp salt in 1 cup of warm water.
  • Clean the sore and dry with gauze swabs or a paper towel, then throw in the rubbish.
  • Cover sore with gauze squares or a fabric plaster.  Do not use waterproof plasters – air is required to dry the sore
  • Change dressing once a day and re soak scabs if necessary
  • If the sores do not start to heal, or if the sores spread, see your GP.

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