Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection usually caused by the Staphylococcus aureus, or “staph” bacteria. It usually affects infants and children especially around the mouth and the nose. It begins as red blisters or sores that burst to develop a grainy golden crust that slowly spreads at the edges. You or your child may get this disease when they come in contact with the sores of someone who has impetigo or with something that has been touched by the person suffering from impetigo. Children and infants are at a greater risk of getting impetigo especially from schools, during warm humid conditions, from skin to skin contact during sports activities or through broken skin that allows the passage of bacteria into the skin. Impetigo can also be spread to other parts of the body by nails, clothes or towel.

Impetigo can be identified by the appearance of some classic symptoms, which can take up to three days to appear, including:

  • Red pus filled blisters that quickly rapture to ooze yellow or tan fluid to form honey-coloured crust

  • Itching in the areas of infection

  • Red rash that spreads

  • Skin lesions, usually on the lips, nose, ears, arms and legs

  • Brown or yellow scaly lesion mostly on face.​

If you or your child has the above-mentioned symptoms, visit a doctor at the Teeth and Skin and Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.​ ​
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​
Your doctor can easily diagnose impetigo by the characteristic sores. Lab test of a sample of the fluid produced by the sores may be inspected to determine the bacteria causing it. This helps the doctor prescribe the most affective antibiotics.
Impetigo usually clears up on its own in two to three weeks but you must keep your child away from company to avoid the spread of infection. Seeing your child in discomfort and isolated is never easy. A course of antibiotics, including creams or ointment applied directly to the sores or taken orally, can shorten the course of the disease. Make sure to complete the course of antibiotics so that the infection does not come back. You can also wash the infected areas gently with mild soap to remove the crust and drainage. 
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.