School Sores (Impetigo)

It’s that time of year that reported cases of Impetigo increase due to the heat and humidity creating the moist hot conditions that the bacteria thrives in.  It presents initially as small, usually itchy, red spots – not unlike mosquito bites – that change into blisters that fill with pus and become yellowish brown, looking a bit like it is encrusted with honey or sugar. (Chicken pox blisters tend to dry to black & crusty). Impetigo usually presents on faces (especially up noses and around the mouth area), hands or the scalp. It is very contagious through touching, scratching, using infected bedding, clothing or towels. It is rarely serious but needs treating promptly and effectively to prevent further spread and risk of complications.  Treatment can vary from simple careful washing of sores with soap and water, and then covering with a dressing, to aggressive antibiotic therapy. Immersing in water e.g. via bathing or swimming, can result in proliferation of sores, so it is best to keep the sores dry until they have healed.

The NSW Dept of Health states that children with Impetigo must be excluded from attending school until treatment has commenced. The child may then return to school with all sores covered with a dressing.

Spread can be prevented by exclusion from school, covering of sores, careful hand washing, bedding & clothes washing and keeping fingernails short & clean.