Skip to main content
members card iconSign in ?


Shutterstock 1544382383

What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a contagious bacterial skin infection characterised by red sores or blisters that often rupture and ooze fluid, forming a yellowish crust. It is caused by bacteria and commonly affects children.

Impetigo is typically spread through direct contact with the sores or through sharing contaminated items such as towels or clothing. Symptoms typically don't appear until four to ten days after exposure to the bacteria, which often leads to unintentional spread to others.

It can occur on any part of the body but is most commonly found around the nose and mouth.

Treatment usually involves topical or oral antibiotics to clear the infection.

The most common type of impetigo is non-bullous.

What are the symptoms of non-bullous impetigo?

Symptoms can include:

  • Impetigo starts with red sores, usually near the mouth and nose, but can also affect other parts of the face and limbs.
  • These sores break open, forming thick, golden crusts about 2cm wide, like cornflakes stuck to the skin.
  • Once the crusts dry, they leave a red mark that usually goes away without leaving a scar, but it can take a few days to a few weeks.
  • The sores may itch, but they're not usually painful. Avoid touching or scratching them to prevent spreading the infection.
  • Severe cases may include a high temperature or swollen glands.

How can you relieve symptoms and prevent the spread of impetigo?

To relieve symptoms of impetigo, you can:

  • Keep the affected area clean by gently washing it with mild soap and water.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment or cream as prescribed by a healthcare professional.
  • Cover the affected area with a clean and sterile bandage to prevent spreading the infection.
  • Avoid scratching or touching the sores to prevent further spread of the bacteria.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching the affected area, to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to alleviate any discomfort or pain.
  • Ensure good hygiene practices, such as regularly washing towels, bedding, and clothing, to prevent reinfection.
  • Refrain from coming into contact with new borns, handling food, participating in contact sports, or visiting the gym.
  • Clean toys by washing or wiping them.

When to seek help?

  • The infection does not improve with home care within a few days.
  • The sores become increasingly painful, swollen, or warm to the touch.
  • You develop a fever or experience swollen lymph nodes.
  • The infection spreads rapidly or affects a large area of your body.
  • You have a weakened immune system or underlying health conditions.
  • You notice signs of cellulitis or other complications, such as red streaks extending from the affected area.

How can a Lincolnshire Co-op Pharmacy help?

Our pharmacists are available to assist individuals aged one and older.

They will inquire about your medical history and other symptoms to rule out other conditions or complications that may require urgent referral to your GP or other healthcare providers.

Our pharmacists will determine if antibiotic cream or antibiotics are necessary, which can be supplied without a prescription.

If you suspect the infection has spread to others, it's advisable to prompt them to see a pharmacist promptly as well.

Our pharmacists cannot provide treatment to infants under the age of one or individuals with bullous impetigo.

Additionally, certain factors in your medical history may prevent our pharmacists from offering treatment. If this applies to you or your child, our pharmacist will refer you to your GP or another appropriate source for help and treatment.

Find your nearest pharmacy

Image for Find your nearest pharmacy

Use our store finder to search for your local Lincolnshire Co-op outlets.

Store finderStorefinder pin

cookie icon Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. These cookies ensure our core functionality works, such as signing into your membership account and keeping our website secure.

We also use analytics cookies to help us make improvements to our website experience by evaluating how visitors use the site. You can manage these cookies by clicking the below button.

More information on this can be found on our cookies page and privacy policy.

cookie icon Manage my cookies

Necessary cookies

We use necessary cookies to enable core functionality on our website such as security, network management and for our membership area to work. You may choose to disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

To help us continue to improve our website, we’d like to use Google Analytics cookies which will provide us with information on how you use the site. These cookies collect general behaviour information and doesn’t directly identify anyone. More information on how these cookies work can be found on our cookies page.