Impetigo (school sores)

Impetigo (you say, im-pa-ty-go), also known as school sores, causes blisters on exposed parts of body, such as hands, legs and face. The blisters burst and turn into a sore with a yellow crust that gets bigger each day.

The sores are itchy.

The sores spread easily to other parts of the skin. Impetigo is easily spread to other children and adults if they touch the sores.

How are school sores spread?
Fluid or pus from sores gets on other skin. Keep sores clean and covered.

What to do

  • Go to the doctor.
  • Check and clean every day.
  • Gently wash the sores with warm water and a soft cloth. Wash the sores until the crust comes off and wash away the pus and blood.
  • Check other children for impetigo. Use any cream from the doctor on the sores.
  • Cover sores with a cloth or plaster to help stop the infection from spreading.
  • Keep your child’s nails short and clean.
  • Wash your hands before and after touching the skin or sores.
  • Make sure your child washes their hands often, especially if they touch the sores.

What to do if impetigo gets worse

You need to go back to the doctor if any of these things happen:

  • sores last more than a week
  • sores become red or swollen
  • sores have pus in them
  • your child has a fever.

The infection may have spread to other parts of the body or blood. Your child may need blood tests and antibiotics.

It is important to take the antibiotics every day until they are finished, even if the impetigo seems to have cleared up earlier. The antibiotics need to keep killing the infection in the body after the skin has healed.

Time off from kura or school

Until sores have dried up or 24 hours after antibiotic treatment has started.

Related websites

Developed by the Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand, the Kidshealth website has information on impetigo and what to do if your child has it.

DermNet New Zealand Trust’s DermNet website has information on impetigo, including pictures of the sores.

Health Navigator
The Health Navigator NZ website helps you find reliable and trustworthy health information and self-help resources.

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