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Hem Impetigo in children – infection and treatment

Impetigo in children – infection and treatment


This post is also available in: Svenska

Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the skin that is common in children. They are often rashes around the mouth or nose in young children. Staphylococci or streptococcus are the bacteria that cause impetigo. They are very easily transmitted between children within families and at kindergartens.

How does impetigo start?

Impetigo often begins as small rashes or a small wound, eczema or chickenpox wounds that become infected. First it is red and then it becomes blisters. The typical characteristic of impetigo is that the sores become sticky, scabby, and the skin underneath turns red. The wounds/blisters spread quickly if they are not treated correctly. Impetigo often sits on the lip or under the nose, but can sit anywhere on the body.

Symptoms of impetigo can include red sores in the nose
The start of impetigo, before the wounds rupture in the nose of a child

Children may develop fever from impetigo, and this is a sign that they need to seek medical advice. Penicillin is usually required to treat impetigo if your child has a fever. If your child is well otherwise, you can go to your local medical centre. For infants (under 6 months) or tired and lethargic children with impetigo and fever, go to the pediatric emergency hospital.

More about penicillin for children can be found here

Impetigo on the cheek with typical yellowish blisters
Treatment of impetigo

As a general rule, you do not have to seek medical care or give your child penicillin if you treat the impetigo as soon as they appear. The blisters cause a lot of pain and it is not so nice for the child, but it’s important treat it as soon as possible. This is how you treat it:

  1. Soak the crusts by placing a wet compress on the sores for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Wash off the crusts. It may bleed a bit underneath, but that’s just fine.
  3. Bathe the wound in plenty of chlorhexidine (bactericidal solution that you can buy in a pharmacy or in a regular grocery store)
  4. Feel free to add a bactericidal ointment, typically Microcid (available without a prescription at the pharmacy)
  5. Cover the wound with a dressing to retain the ointment and prevent infection

It may take a few weeks before the wounds are completely healed. But with this method, they should become smaller within the day. If they get bigger and spread, go to a medical center. There the doctors will likely give you a bactericidal ointment or penicillin. However, local treatment is equally important in all cases. If you find it difficult to treat the wound, ask a nurse at the health centre to show you how to do it.

Infection and impetigo at preschools

Impetigo is highly contagious, and can be partly due to the streptococcal infections that spread around in a preschool group. Children with the occasional well-covered blisters can possibly go back to preschool. But if you cannot cover the blisters completely or they are widely scattered – stay at home.

The child should stay at home until the wounds have dried out and healed. Then they are no longer contagious.

Read more:

Not sure if your child has impetigo? Read our popular picture guide about spots and rashes in children here.

Streptococcus in children – tonsillitis, perianal streptococcus and scarlet fever

Penicillin or antibiotics in children, Kåvepenin (Penicillin VK), Heracillin (Floxapen) or Amimox (Amoxil)?

Hand, foot and mouth disease – blisters in children

Chickenpox in children – infection, patterns, incubation period

Blisters in the mouth in children

Eczema in children

All posts about childhood diseases can be found here

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