Impetigo Treatment

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Impetigo is a contagious bacterial skin infection. It can easily spread to other parts of the body or other people. It stops becoming contagious 48 hours after you start treatment or when the patches dry out. 

Impetigo can either affect healthy skin or broken skin. It, however, most commonly affects broken skin. The most common bacteria responsible include Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Keep abrasions, cuts and insect bites clean to help avoid an infection. It usually takes 4-10 days for the rash to appear after you have been infected with the bacteria. It usually starts with blisters or red sores. These then usually become crusty patches of skin which can spread and increase in size.

An antibiotic cream such as Fusidic Acid is commonly used to treat the condition. We may prescribe Fusidic Acid if clinically appropriate:

Please see the 'Common Treatments' section below for further information.


Common Symptoms

The following are possible symptoms you may experience:

  • red swollen area of skin
  • itching around the area
  • pain and tenderness affecting the area
  • fluid filled blisters
  • pus discharging from the area
  • crusty areas


Common Treatments

Possible treatments we may prescribe if clinically appropriate:

  •  (15g) 7-day course (£1.48*) is the treatment of choice

*Prices shown are cost price of the medication, taken from the British National Formulary 2018, and are given as a guideline. Pharmacies will add a dispensing fee to this which will vary considerably, so it is worthwhile phoning around to compare prices. The medication is paid for at your chosen pharmacy. 

Please click on the medication above to read the Patient Information Leaflet for important information about each drug. We use national prescribing guidelines to select which treatment would be most appropriate for your condition.


Risk Factors

Risk factors for impetigo include:

  • atopic eczema
  • insect bites,
  • trauma to the skin
  • scabies
  • chickenpox
  • burns
  • contact dermatitis
Self-help for the symptoms

Speak to your pharmacist for advice on over the counter treatments that may help such as creams and painkillers.

  • Wash your hands before and after touching the area and avoid scratching it to reduce the risk of infection. Wash your hands frequently.
  • Keep sores, blisters and crusty patches clean and dry.
  • Cover the areas with loose clothing or gauze bandages.
  • Keep all surfaces you touch clean with disinfectant.
  • Wash your bed linen, clothes and towels at a high temperature.
  • Avoid sharing towels or sheets.
  • Avoid any direct contact with the affected area and others.
  • If the area is painful, then take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Please read the information leaflet contained with the medication to check it's suitability or speak to your pharmacist if you are unsure.
When to seek further medical advice

Please note that i-GP DOES NOT TREAT Medical Emergencies. For Medical Emergencies please call 999.

If you develop any of the following symptoms, then it is important to seek medical advice as soon as possible (from your GP, Out of Hours Service, Urgent care centre or call NHS 111):

  • If you develop a persistent high fever (high temperature) which can cause shivers.
  • If the pain becomes worse.
  • If you feel increasingly unwell (this may include nausea and vomiting).
  • If you develop spreading redness affecting your skin around the site of your infection.
  • If you develop any painful, red and hot joints near to the infection.
  • If you develop any flu-like symptoms.

If you develop any of the following symptoms, then you must seek urgent medical advice immediately (from your GP, Out of Hours Service, Urgent care centre, NHS 111). Call an ambulance using 999 or go to A&E if the symptoms are severe.

  • drowsiness or confusion
  • dizziness or feeling faint
  • difficulty in breathing, a wheeze or shortness of breath
  • a severe headache
  • if you are unable to look at bright lights (photophobia)
  • chest pain or a fast heart rate
  • persistent vomiting
  • neck stiffness
  • non-blanching rash
Antibiotic Guardianship

Antibiotics should be used responsibly and only when really necessary. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is where the antibiotic becomes less effective at treating certain types of bacterial infection, so they do not work when needed. 

Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed, and it is important to complete the full course, this can reduce the chance of the bacteria developing an immunity to that antibiotic. It is important not to share antibiotics, and always take unused medication to your local pharmacy for disposal.

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