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What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a common bacterial skin infection that spreads very easily (it’s very contagious) but isn't serious. It appears as blisters, usually on the face or hands but sometimes it can infect other parts of the body as well. The blisters burst leaving sores that crust over with yellowish scabs. The sores might also be itchy or painful.

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What are the symptoms of impetigo?

Impetigo appears as blisters or sores on the skin, usually around the face or hands. The blisters burst and then a yellowish scab forms over the wound. The infection is often itchy and can be sore, and can spread to other parts of the body.

What are the causes of impetigo?

Impetigo is caused by a bacterial infection of the skin. The infection can start where there’s a break in the skin from things like insect bites, scratches or eczema.

The bacteria is highly contagious so it tends to spread in places where people are in close contact, like schools and nurseries, or sports centres.

What can I do to avoid catching impetigo?

Since impetigo is very infectious, it’s important not to share creams or towels with someone who has it. It’s also very important to wash your hands thoroughly and wipe down any toys with detergent and water if your children have impetigo.

Page last reviewed by: Dr. Christina Hennessey 21/06/2021