How to Help Your Child with Impetigo

As a mother of three, I’ve unfortunately dealt with my fair share of rashes, itches, and bumps amongst my children.  I know that I wished I had a “quick guide” to help me through those tough times.

To be as helpful as possible, I’ve compiled exactly that – a “quick guide” to impetigo and I’ve also included links to a few eBook downloads that you might find useful as you seek to solve your baby’s rashes, deal with immunizations, and handle other challenges you might be facing with your little one.

So let’s start out with the basics:

What is Impetigo?

  • A bacterial skin infection that occurs when staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria enters the skin
  • Impetigo is not dangerous but needs to be treated promptly as it can lead to complications
  • Itchy and uncomfortable for children
  • Most common during warm, humid weather

What ages of children are usually affected by impetigo?

  • Most common in infants and children up to the age of 6 years old
  • Can also affect children who have chicken pox
  • Children with eczema are also at risk

Is impetigo contagious?

  • Very contagious
  • Child will be contagious until the rash starts to clear (usually after 48 hours of antibiotic treatment with noticeable improvement)
  • Must complete the whole course of antibiotic treatment to prevent the impetigo from returning

How can impetigo be spread?

  • The bacteria causing impetigo is easily spread via objects, other infected children, toys, towels, wash cloths, clothing, surfaces and shared bathwater
  • The staph bacteria can also be carried in the nose and transmitted through contact with the child via unwashed hands
  • If the child touches the bacteria, it will stay on his/her skin.
  • The staph or strep bacteria can then enter the child’s body though a cut, scrape, cold sore, fingernail scratch or insect bite
  • Can also enter the child’s body through other places where the skin is damaged (like where the skin is inflamed and red – maybe as a result of excessive rubbing or a runny nose)
  • Once impetigo has developed, it can easily be spread through scratching
  • If the child gets a cut or scratch, promptly wash the area with warm water and antibacterial soap and apply an over-the-counter topical antibacterial ointment to create a barrier to keep bacteria from entering

What does impetigo look like on an affected child?

  • Impetigo is itchy for the affected child
  • A patch of tiny, red blisters (or pimples) develop and begin to ooze
  • Then the blisters burst and continue to spread leaving the skin a reddish color
  • The blisters then form a scab or a tan or yellowish-brown crust
  • The blisters typically appear around the nose, mouth or ears but may spread to the arms, legs, abdomen, chest, deep skin folds or diaper area
  • The glands in the affected area may become swollen
  • If the blisters are larger, appear clear or cloudy or do not burst as quickly, the child may also develop a fever and/or diarrhea


How can impetigo be treated?

  • The doctor will most likely prescribe either topical or oral antibiotics to treat the infection
  • Clean the area at least twice a day with warm water and antibacterial soap. Pat the area dry with a clean towel.
  • The scabs will also need to be removed while cleaning as the bacteria live under the scabs. By removing them, the topical ointment can better treat the infection
  • If the doctor has not prescribed a topical antibiotic, an over-the-counter topical ointment can be applied instead
  • Cover the infected area with a loose gauze bandage after applying the ointment
  • Impetigo can easily spread to the diaper area so keep this area clean and dry (see Diaper Rash section for more tips)
  • Prevent the child from scratching by trimming his/her fingernails and then having the child wear gloves while sleeping.
  • Make sure to wash the child’s clothes, sheets and towels every day to keep the impetigo from spreading
  • Wear gloves when applying any ointment that the doctor prescribed
  • Use paper towels for drying instead of cloth towels

How long does impetigo last?

  • Depending on the cause of the infection, it can clear up in as early as 2 weeks
  • But impetigo can last longer

Call the doctor if:

  • Suspect the child has developed impetigo
  • Does not improve after 3 days of following the doctor’s treatment plan
  • Fever occurs
  • Vomiting or diarrhea occurs
  • Area becomes extremely red and sensitive to touch

Perhaps you’ll find this eBook helpful as you look for medications, ointments, and other treatments to help your child.

Pediatric Medication

You might also find these other eBooks helpful!

Baby Immunization

Help Colicky Baby

Teething 101 Guide

Instant Food Guide

Also, here are some additional videos I produced with my friends at Howcast that might be helpful to you as you tackle other related challenges:

How to Handle a Baby’s Diaper Rash

How to Help a Crying Baby