Preventing impetigo 

As impetigo is a highly contagious condition, it is important to take precautions to reduce the risk of the infection spreading.

Stopping the infection spreading

The advice below can help to prevent the spread of the infection to other people or to other areas of the body:

  • Stay away from work, school, nursery or playgroup until the sores have dried up, blistered or crusted over, or until 48 hours after starting treatment.
  • Don't share flannels, sheets or towels with anyone who has impetigo, and wash them at a high temperature after use.
  • Wash the sores with soap and water, and cover them loosely with a gauze bandage or clothing if possible.
  • Avoid touching the sores, or letting others touch them, whenever possible.
  • Don't scratch the affected areas. It may help to ensure your or your child's nails are kept clean and short to reduce the risk of further damage caused by scratching.
  • Avoid contact with newborn babies, preparing food, playing contact sports, or going to the gym until the risk of infection has passed (when the rash has crusted over, or after at least 48 hours of treatment with antibiotics).
  • Wash your hands frequently, particularly after touching infected skin.
  • Washable toys should also be washed. Wipe non-washable soft toys thoroughly with a cloth that has been wrung out in detergent and warm water and allowed to dry completely.

If you think that the infection has spread to someone else, make sure they are seen by a GP as soon as possible.

Preventing re-infection

To reduce the risk of impetigo returning, make sure any cuts, scratches or bites are kept clean, and ensure any condition that causes broken skin, such as eczema, is treated promptly.

If you develop impetigo frequently, your doctor may suggest taking a swab from around your nose to see if you carry staphylococcal bacteria inside your nose. These bacteria can live in the noses of some people without causing problems, although they can lead to impetigo if they infected broken skin nearby.

If you are found to carry these bacteria, you may be prescribed an antiseptic nasal cream to apply several times a day for five to 10 days in an attempt to clear the bacteria and reduce the chances of impetigo recurring.

Page last reviewed: 17/07/2014

Next review due: 17/07/2016