Complications of Impetigo in Children: What Parents Need to Know



Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that primarily affects children. While it is usually a mild and treatable condition, it’s essential for parents to be aware of potential complications that can arise from impetigo. In this article, we will discuss what impetigo is, its common causes, and the complications parents should be informed about.

Understanding Impetigo:

Impetigo is characterized by red sores or blisters that often burst and form honey-colored crusts. It is caused by two types of bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, and typically occurs on the face, hands, and other exposed areas of the body. The infection spreads through direct contact with the sores or with items that have come into contact with the infected skin.

Common Causes of Impetigo in Children:

  1. Poor Hygiene: Inadequate handwashing and poor personal hygiene can increase the risk of impetigo.
  2. Skin Injuries: Cuts, insect bites, or other skin injuries provide entry points for bacteria.
  3. Crowded Environments: Impetigo can spread quickly in environments like schools and daycare centers where children are in close contact.
  4. Warm and Humid Weather: Impetigo is more common in warm and humid climates.

Potential Complications of Impetigo:

While impetigo is typically a mild condition, there are potential complications parents should be aware of:

  1. Cellulitis: Impetigo can lead to cellulitis, a more severe skin infection that spreads to deeper layers of the skin. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, and warmth in the affected area.
  2. Lymphangitis: This complication involves the inflammation of the lymphatic vessels. It can cause red streaks extending from the impetigo sores, along with fever and chills.
  3. Abscess Formation: Occasionally, impetigo can progress to abscess formation, which is a collection of pus under the skin. Abscesses may need to be drained by a healthcare professional.
  4. Post-Streptococcal Glomerulonephritis (PSGN): In rare cases, impetigo caused by streptococcal bacteria can lead to PSGN, a kidney condition. Symptoms may include swelling, dark urine, and high blood pressure.

Preventing Impetigo and Complications:

To reduce the risk of impetigo and its complications:

  • Encourage regular handwashing with soap and water, especially before meals and after using the toilet.
  • Teach children not to scratch or pick at sores or scabs.
  • Keep children’s fingernails short and clean.
  • Avoid sharing towels, clothing, and personal items with infected individuals.
  • If impetigo is suspected, seek prompt medical attention for diagnosis and treatment.


Impetigo is a common and generally mild childhood skin infection. However, parents should be aware of potential complications that can arise, such as cellulitis and lymphangitis. By promoting good hygiene practices and seeking timely medical care when needed, parents can help prevent and manage impetigo in their children effectively. If you suspect your child has impetigo, consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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