What is it?

Impetigo is a skin infection causing blisters, which become golden-crusted. It is mainly caused by bacteria known as staphylococci but may also be caused by streptococci. The fluid in the blister is very infectious, and spread occurs by hand-to-hand contact with this fluid as the blister bursts. Good hygiene is essential to prevent spread. Treatment is usually by antibiotic cream and/or oral antibiotic medicine.


Hand washing is extremely important to stop the spread of impetigo. Any cuts, scrapes or scratches should be cleaned without delay and kept clean. Any medical conditions that involve broken skin, e.g. eczema, should be treated promptly to prevent the development of impetigo. Towels and face cloths should not be shared by pupils or staff. Staff should wash hands thoroughly after any contact with lesions e.g. after covering a pupil’s lesion. People with impetigo must not handle food as the germ may also cause food poisoning. Environmental hygiene is also important.

Exclusion recommended for sufferer only

Until lesions are crusted and healed, or 24 hours after commencing antibiotics. If after 24 hours of antibiotics lesions are not yet healed then they should be covered, e.g. with gauze and tape, until crusted and healed.


From: Management of Infectious Disease in Schools | Public Health Medicine Communicable Disease Group, September 2013, H.S.E.