School sores (impetigo) - including symptoms, treatment and prevention

School sores (impetigo) are a superficial skin infection caused by Staphylococcus or Streptococcus bacteria, or sometimes both, that is most common in children.

How school sores are spread

The bacteria can easily spread to other parts of the infected person’s body or to other people directly by contact with sores or indirectly by contact with contaminated clothes.

Signs and symptoms

red area under the chin with scabes and peeling skinSchool sores appear as a flat, yellow, crusty or moist patches on the skin (see image), usually on exposed parts of the body such as the face and legs. The sores are often greater than 1cm in diameter.

Image: Impetigo (school sore)


Diagnosis is based on clinical presentation. Dry, cracked skin serves as an area for growth of the Streptococcus and Staphylococcus bacteria.

Incubation period

(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)

4 to 10 days.

Infectious period

(time during which an infected person can infect to others)

As long as there is discharge from the sores. School sores are extremely infectious.


The doctor may recommend the use of antibiotic ointment, or antibiotics by mouth in severe cases.

Any sores on exposed surfaces should be covered with a watertight dressing.


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