Impetigo Pediatric Care Plan

By David Shafran, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
December 16, 2020

What is Impetigo?

Impetigo is an infection of the skin most commonly caused by a bacteria called staph aureus.

Impetigo usually starts as a bump that becomes a small pus filled blister then pops and develops a yellow or honey-colored crust.

Lesions most commonly appear on the face, arms, and legs. Less commonly, there can be blisters or ulcers (open sores) associated with impetigo. Impetigo is contagious.

Impetigo Diagnosis and Treatment

Impetigo can usually be diagnosed based on a history and physical exam alone. Sometimes your child’s provider might swab the lesion to see what type of bacteria is causing the infection. This helps better decide what treatment to use.

For small lesions located in one specific area, topical antibiotics are enough. If lesions are widespread or there are open sores, then antibiotics by mouth should be prescribed.

When Can my Child Return to School?

Once they have been using the proper antibiotics for 24 hours, they can return to school even if the lesion or lesions haven’t completely gone away. 

Check in with K if…

  • You have general questions about your child’s condition
  • You want general followup for your child
  • You have questions about supportive care
  • Your child’s symptoms don’t go away after treatment but are not alarming

See a doctor in person if…

  • If there is no improvement 48-72 hours after starting antibiotics
  • If your child develops a fever 
  • If there is increased pain or swelling
  • If the lesions are spreading
  • If your child is not drinking well
  • If your child becomes significantly less active or looks sick

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

David Shafran, MD

Dr. Shafran is a board-certified pediatrics physician. He joins K Health from the Cleveland Clinic, where he led a pediatrics practice and completed a fellowship in transplant ethics. He has completed multiple fellowships, including one in pediatric nephrology at Rainbow, Babies & Children's University Hospitals. He received his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed his medical residency at the Jacobi Medical Center.