“School sores” is the common name for Impetigo that causes blisters on exposed parts of body, such as hands, legs and face. Impetigo is a very contagious skin infection this means it easily spreads from one person to another most common in children, due to mixing and mingling every day in the school environment, and at home especially when there is a large group of whanau living together.

Impetigo usually starts as a little blisters, these then break and start to weep, usually pus, and sometimes clearer liquid. The weeping patches tend to grow larger. Yellow or brownish scabs then form which can burn or itch.

This may also starts as any lesion (bite, damaged skin) that doesn’t heal and develops a crusty scab. Sometimes it looks like a rash– which may begin as a single spot, but if a person scratches, it may spread to other areas, there it can grow, causing inflammation and infection.

As soon as you think your child might have impetigo, take them to the doctors. Treatment will depend on the how severe the infection is. The doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics that is required to take every day until they are finished, even if the impetigo seems to have cleared up earlier. The antibiotics needs to keep killing the infection in the body after the skin has healed.

Impetigo is very contagious. Follow your doctor’s advice about when the child can return to school or preschool.

  • Make sure you have your own towel, soap and face towels, and never share them (disposable paper towels are useful).
  • Keep bed linen, clothes and towels separate.
  • All family members should use an antibacterial soap – flowing soap pump packs are ideal.
  • Keep fingernails cut short. Avoid scratching or picking at sores.
  • Keep sores covered with a dressing, such as gauze and tape.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food.
  • Make sure your child washes their hands often, especially if they touch the sores.

For more information and support please phone your doctor or practice nurse, your local pharmacist, or ask to speak to the public health nurse attached to the school. You can also phone Healthline free (within New Zealand) on 0800 611 116 for health advice or visit www.healthnavigator.org.nz or www.health.govt.nz