Impetigo is an infection caused by staph or strep bacteria entering the body through an opening in the skin, such as a cut or a fever blister. Impetigo is fairly common in children age 2 to 6 years old and is highly contagious.
The infection appears as small clusters of red blisters, usually around the mouth and nose. The blisters can however, be located anywhere on the body. There could be slight oozing from the blisters and your child may have swollen lymph nodes in the general area of the infection.
Most children contract impetigo through contact with other children. It is not uncommon to see several children in the same class or at the same care minder with the infection.
Your doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics, either oral or topical, to treat impetigo. Make sure that your child takes the full course of antibiotics so the infection will not return.
To treat the blisters, you must clean the infected skin twice a day. Use antibacterial soap and warm water to wash away the scabs that have formed. Then pat the area dry with a clean towel. Make sure that you use a clean towel each time and that nobody else uses the towel when you are finished. Paper towels may be a better option as you can simply throw them out and not worry about the infection spreading to anyone else in the home.
Try to keep your child from touching or scratching the infected skin as this will only spread the infection.
Once your child has been on antibiotics for 24 hours, they are most likely no longer contagious. Until then, you definitely want to keep them home from school or crèche.
If you see that the infection is not clearing up after three days of treatment, take your child back to the doctor. It may be necessary to have a tissue culture of the infected skin to determine which antibiotic will work best for your child.