Impetigo is a skin infection that’s very contagious but not usually serious. It often gets better in 7 to 10 days if you get treatment. Anyone can get it, but it’s very common in young children.

Check if you have impetigo

Impetigo starts with red sores or blisters. They quickly burst and leave crusty, golden-brown patches. These can:

  • look a bit like cornflakes stuck to your skin
  • get bigger
  • spread to other parts of your body
  • be itchy
  • sometimes be painful

See a GP if you or your child:

  • might have impetigo
  • had treatment for impetigo but the symptoms change or get worse
  • had impetigo before and it keeps coming back

Impetigo is very infectious. Check with the GP before you go in to the practice. They may suggest a phone consultation.

Treatment from a GP

A GP will check it’s not something more serious, like cellulitis.

If it’s impetigo, they can prescribe antibiotic cream to speed up your recovery or antibiotic tablets if it’s very bad.

Stop impetigo spreading or getting worse

Impetigo can easily spread to other parts of your body or to other people until it stops being contagious.

It stops being contagious:

  • 48 hours after you start using the medicine your GP prescribed
  • when the patches dry out and crust over – if you don’t get treatment

You can do some things to help stop it spreading or getting worse while it’s still contagious:

How to avoid impetigo

Impetigo usually infects skin that’s already damaged. Avoid infection by:

  • keeping cuts, scratches and insect bites clean – for example, by washing with warm water and soap
  • getting treatment for skin conditions, like eczema