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What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a common skin infection in young children. It is caused by either the streptococcal or the staphylococcal bacteria.

Characteristics of impetigo

The rash is itchy and looks red and round, and may be oozing. It starts as small blisters containing pus-like material that may break and form a flat, honey-like crusty sores. The rash often appears on the face between the upper lip and nose and on the diaper area. The rash can spread to other places on the skin.

Treatment of impetigo

See your health care provider for treatment of impetigo. Untreated impetigo can lead to complications such as abscess, boils and sepsis.

Spread of impetigo

Impetigo is spread through direct contact with infected skin. It can also be spread by touching articles (such as clothing, bedding, towels, etc.) contaminated by contact with the rash.

How to prevent the spread of impetigo

  • Wash the rash with soap and water and cover it loosely with gauze, a bandage or clothing to prevent scratching the rash.
  • Wash hands thoroughly, especially after touching an infected area of the body.
  • Use separate towels and washcloths; do not share bath water.
  • Avoid contact with newborn babies.
  • Exclude infected children from school or day care until 24 hours after the start of treatment.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Public Health Division of Contra Costa Health Services for more information.