School sores (impetigo)

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Thumbnail of Impetigo printoutKey points to remember

  • school sores is the common name for impetigo (you say, im-pa-ty-go)
  • it starts with blisters on exposed parts of the body, such as hands, legs and face
  • the blisters burst and turn into a sore with a yellow crust that gets bigger each day
  • the sores are itchy
  • the sores spread easily to other parts of the skin
  • school sores easily spread to other children and adults if they touch the sores

What to do

  • go to the doctor
  • check and clean every day
  • gently wash the sores with warm water and a soft cloth - wash the sores until the crust comes off and wash away the pus and blood
  • check other children for school sores - use any cream from the doctor on the sores
  • cover sores with a cloth or plaster to help stop the infection from spreading
  • keep your child's nails short and clean
  • wash your hands with soap and dry thoroughly before and after touching the skin or sores
  • make sure your child washes their hands with soap often, and dries them thoroughly, especially if they touch the sores

How is it spread?

  • fluid or pus from sores gets on other skin
  • keep sores clean and covered

What do I do if the school sores get worse?

You need to go back to the doctor if any of these things happen:

  • sores last more than a week
  • sores become red or swollen
  • sores have pus in them
  • your child has a fever

The infection may have spread to other parts of the body or blood. Your child may need blood tests and antibiotics.

It is important to take the antibiotics every day until they are finished, even if the school sores seem to have cleared up earlier. The antibiotics need to keep killing the infection in the body after the skin has healed.

Should I keep my child home from kura or school?

One day after treatment has started, or check with your doctor or public health nurse or school.

Source: Workbase and Ministry of Health printout (PDF, 383KB)

This page last reviewed 19 May 2014
© Paediatric Society of New Zealand and Starship Foundation 2005 – 2016
Printed on 24 July 2016. Content is regularly updated so please refer to www.kidshealth.org.nz for the most up-to-date version
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