Impetigo is an blistery rash that appears around the nose and mouth and can be spread to other parts of the body.
The blisters range in size and can burst easily or take days to burst. After they have burst they leave crusty marks which gradually heal without leaving a scar.
Impetigo can be quite itchy and can cause symptoms such as high temperature and swollen lymph glands. Scratching the itchy blisters can aid the spread of the infection to other parts of the body so keep you baby's fingernails short to prevent bacteria gathering underneath them. To avoid impetigo spreading elsewhere on your baby's body you should take care to keep the infected areas as clean as possible by washing them twice a day with soap and water. If you're using a towel to pat dry the areas you should wash it afterwards and not let anyone else use it.
It is difficult to avoid spreading the infection to others because infected people are contagious days before their symptoms show. To minimise the spread of the infection it is important to have good hygeine and wash hands, sheets and clothes thoroughly.
The bacteria responsible for impetigo enters the body through open skin, so cover any cuts with plasters and treat eczema to prevent the bacteria entering.
If you suspect your baby has impetigo you should go to the doctor who will normally prescribe an antibiotic cream for you to apply to infected areas. Wash your hands before and after applying cream to your baby's skin. Antibiotic tablets may be prescribed if the impetigo is particularly severe. Make sure you finish the whole course of antibiotics even if the infection clears up.
Your baby's infection should clear up within a week of starting treatment. If it doesn't you should go back to the doctor. Also go to the doctor again if your baby has a fever a few days after starting treatment or if the infected area becomes more red and tender.
It is important to treat impetigo correctly because if left untreated it may lead to further problems such as cellulitis (skin inflammation), psoriasis, scarlet fever, blood poisoning or kidney disease called glomerulonephritis.