Impetigo in Children

What is impetigo in children?

Impetigo is an infection of the skin. When it affects just the surface, it’s called superficial impetigo. Impetigo can also affect deeper parts of the skin. This is called ecthyma. It may occur on healthy skin. Or it may occur where the skin was injured by a cut, scrape, or insect bite.

Impetigo is most common in children from ages 2 to 5. It is contagious. This means it’s easily passed from one person to another. It can be spread around a household. Children can infect other family members, and can reinfect themselves.

What causes impetigo in a child?

Impetigo is caused by bacteria. The bacteria that can cause it include:

  • Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus
  • Staphylococcus aureus

Who is at risk for impetigo in a child?

Impetigo is more common in children, but adults may also have the infection. A child is more likely to get impetigo if he or she:

  • Has close contact with to others with impetigo
  • Does not keep clean (poor hygiene)
  • Is in warm, moist (humid) air
  • Has other skin conditions, such as scabies or eczema

What are the symptoms of impetigo in a child?

Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They also vary depending on which bacteria caused it. Symptoms can include:

  • Red bumps
  • Sores that are filled with fluid, draining fluid, or crusted over
  • Areas that are red, swollen, and may itch
  • Swelling of nearby lymph glands (nodes)

The bumps or sores can be painful and appear anywhere on the body. But they are most common on the face, arms, and legs.

The symptoms of impetigo can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is impetigo diagnosed in a child?

The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she will give your child a physical exam. A sample of the pus from the sores may be sent to a lab. This is called a culture. It’s done to see what type of bacteria caused the infection. It can help the doctor decide the best antibiotic for treatment.