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22nd May 2018

Health Visitor's Blog Common Skin Infections

Common Skin Infections in Children

Skin Infections are really common in children so it is highly likely that you will recognise some of the infections that I will discuss in this week’s blog either from personal experience or just from hearing about it in the press. Common skin infections include impetigo, viral warts, molluscum contagiosum, viral warts and ringworm. If you suspect your child has any skin infection it is really important to seek advice as using treatments carefully will reduce the risk of recurrence in those that require treatment. Skin infections can either be bacterial, viral or fungal in origin and are thus treated accordingly.


Impetigo is a very common contagious superficial bacterial skin infection that occurs in about 1% of children. It can occur anywhere on the body but is seen more often on the face and extremities and it usually lasts from between 1-3 weeks. There are 2 classic forms of the infection:

Non bullous impetigo- more common and is usually seen in children over the age of 2 ys and in most cases the lesions form on the skin that has been injured in some way, for example, insect bites, eczema or minor abrasions. The first sign is small blisters which later develop into the classic golden crusted legions that spread across the body.


  • Bullous impetigo- more common in babies and young children under 2 yrs of age. It favours more humid environments and is characterised by vesicles and blisters which do not break that easily and can persist for several days. Treatment for this type requires systemic antibiotics and these maybe given IV in very young babies for whom it can be a life threatening condition.


  • The treatment of impetigo follows diagnosis by swabs. Treatment is either topical or oral antiobiotics.

Children with Impetigo should stay away from nursery or school until no more lesions are found or until 48 hours after antibiotic treatment has been started (Health Protection Agency (HPA), 2010)

Tinea Capitis (Scalp Ringworm)

Tinea Capitis is now endemic in the UK and is most common in the UK in inner city cosmopolitan communities and for this reason, any child that presents with hair loss should be considered to have tinea capitis until proven otherwise. Tinea capitis is most common in 3-8 yr olds and occurs more often (but not always) in children with African or Caribbean heritage.

Tinea capitis can have very subtle symptoms and can even be asymptomatic . Some signs maybe mild flaking  or scale of the scalp, broken off hairs or hair loss. In some areas there maybe some pustules evident and some enlarged local lymph nodes.

Treatment is usually an antifungal medicine as a systemic treatment as topical creams don’t tend to work very successfully.

Children do not need to miss nursery or school once the treatment has been started.

Molluscum Contagiosum

      Molloscum Contagiosum is really common in children and causes a great deal of anxiety in parents. The lesions present as clear, flesh coloured dome shaped lesions and can appear anywhere on the body. The condition is self limiting and usually harmless but can be itchy and uncomfortable. The lesions can last up to 18-24 months and then resolve spontaneously leaving no scars (unless they are picked or squeezed).

Sometimes Molluscum Contagiosum is treated but more often than not, it is left alone to clear up by itself.


Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and are spread by touch and they are extremely common in children. Common warts are dome shaped papules or nodules an are often rough, scaly and pink or skin coloured and usually multiple. They are often found on the hands and feet but can also be found on the face .

No treatment is often preferred as they go away on their own within 3 years however treatment may be offered due the pain and the because they are unsightly.