Symptoms may fade on their own in very mild cases. However, this risks the condition spreading and infecting other people. Antibacterials are the best treatment of choice.
Mild cases of impetigo can be treated with prescription antibiotic cream or ointment. The usual treatment in Australia is Mupirocin (®Bactroban), which is applied three times per day for ten days.
More widespread infections will need oral antibiotics such as Flucloxacillin or Dicloxacillin, or Cefalexin for 5-10 days.
Completing a prescribed course of antibiotics is extremely important. Leaving impetigo untreated can lead to skin abscesses in some cases.
It’s probably fair to say that kids are often treated with oral antibiotics for mild school sores when topicals might do the job just as well.
Clearly, it’s very disruptive to a family for a child to be out of daycare for any longer than is necessary – for example, in a child who doesn’t respond to topical antibiotic and subsequently needs oral antibiotics. On the other hand, antibiotic resistance is now “an urgent global health priority.” Overall, the guidelines are very clear that topical antibiotics are preferred to oral antibiotics for mild cases¹.