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School sores - impetigo

contagious; skin; impetigo; school; sores; sore; itch; germ; infection ;


One day you could wake up, look in the mirror and seeā€¦. a horrible looking sore! Yuk! Gross!

impetigoNo, you haven't got the plague, but if you are a school kid you may have a pimple, or a cold sore, or you may have impetigo (say im-pet-eye-go).

Impetigo, or school sores as they are sometimes called, often appear on the face, or around the nose or mouth, but they can be anywhere on the body where the skin has been damaged in some way, eg. cuts, scrapes, acne, chicken pox spots.

Impetigo sores are crusty looking and they are very contagious ( say con-tay-jus). That means they can be spread easily to other parts of your own body or to other people by touching.

Impetigo is sometimes called school sores because they can spread easily around the school if everyone is not very careful. (Even teachers can get them!)

What does impetigo look like?

It usually starts by looking like a blister. The blister bursts and the spot where it was looks all red and runny.

The watery stuff then dries and makes a yellowy crust. Other blisters appear around it, and it itches like mad. But don't touch!

Not pleasant!

When the scab dries out it will fall off and the skin underneath will look normal after a few days.

How can you get impetigo?

Everyone has germs living on their skin all of the time. Most of these germs do not cause any problems (they can be called 'good' germs). Some germs can cause trouble when you have damaged your skin (eg. when you have scratched or scraped it).

If you have the 'bad' germs on your fingers or under your fingernails, when you scratch the spot, those germs can get into your damaged skin.

You do not need to actually touch someone's sore to get the germs onto your fingers. Germs could be passed on from towels, tissues, face washers (cloths) or the hands of someone who has touched a sore.

What to do if you get impetigo

  • You need to see a doctor so that you can make sure it is impetigo and usually you will get antibiotics (say anti-by-ot-ix) to clear it up.
  • You may be given a special cream to put on.
  • You may need to cover the sore with a waterproof dressing to stop the germs spreading (and to help you stop scratching the itchy sore).
  • impetigoWash the area with the sore (and your hands) 3-4 times a day with a special antiseptic soap.
  • Use cotton wool or tissues when you clean the sore, then put them in a closed rubbish bin or flush them down the toilet.
  • The crusty bits do need to come off but don't pick at them. They will come off when they are ready if they are washed gently.
  • Cut your fingernails so that you are less likely to scratch and pass on the germs.
  • Do not use anyone else's towel or face washer or let them use yours.
  • Stay away from other children until the sores have started to heal. (In South Australia you must stay home from school until about 24 hours after you have started using antibiotics, when the sore has stopped being watery. Then you can go back to school with a bandaid covering the sore.)
  • Let your teacher know if you have impetigo when you go back to school.


You wouldn't want to give impetigo to your friend, would you?

  • Don't worry, because although these sores look pretty horrible they usually only last for a few days with the right treatment, if you are careful and don't pick at them.

How to avoid impetigo

Impetigo is easily spread.
It does look pretty horrible but it is not a serious infection.

  • Keeping your body clean by washing daily is a good start (a bath or a shower).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before you eat and after you have been to the toilet.
  • Clean cuts and grazes, and don't scratch them when they get to that itchy time. (You know, just before the scab falls off.)
  • Keep nails short and clean.
  • Take your own towel and face washer with you when you sleep over at a friend's place - just in case.

Dr Kate says

Dr Kate

"No-one will think that you are 'dirty' if you get impetigo. It is a very contagious disease and lots of people are unlucky enough to get it. Try not to pass it on by being really careful. You will need to see a doctor to make sure that it is impetigo and to get the right treatment".

Kate says,
"It's not a tragedy when you get impetigo. All it does is itch. It doesn't stay there for long, about a week."

Nathan says
"Go to the doctor. He or she will give you some medicine. Take all of it. You won't feel ill".

"Please be considerate to your friends by taking a pillow when you sleep over. Wash your hands and wear a bandaid over the sore."
advises Melissa.

School Sores
Hands clean
Own towels
Own pillows
Like yourself (it's not your fault)

Scratching-don't do it.


Im - pet - i - go
Sounds like a dance
Will you get it?
There is a chance.
Keep your hands clean.
Don't pick a sore.
Use your own gear
And you won't get more.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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