Common skin infections
While infectious diseases are commonly spread by airborne bacteria via coughing and sneezing, the following infections are spread by contact, and are all highly contagious.
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the eyes and the time between exposure and illness is between 1 - 3 days.
- Sore, itchy, red, watery eyes
- Thick yellow discharge which may cause eyelids to stick together
See your doctor for treatment.
- Bathe eyes in a sterile saline solution from the chemist or use a cup of cooled boiled water mixed with a pinch salt.
- Avoid bright sunlight.
- Keep child at home until the discharge from eyes has stopped.
Lice are tiny brown mites which move around the hair and scalp. Nits are the eggs, which are tiny and white and cling to the hair. These will hatch within a week, and become lice (which are active for several weeks).
- Itchy scalp
- Evidence of lice and nits on close inspection of the hair
- Buy a solution and nit comb from your chemist and follow the instructions carefully (including washing of clothes, bedding and hairbrushes in very hot water). Treat the whole family.
- Your child can return to school/day care centre the next day.
- Notify your school/day care centre to be on the watch for other outbreaks.
Impetigo (school sores)
School sores are an unsightly skin infection. The time between exposure and outbreak is between 4 - 10 days.
- Small red spots, usually around the mouth or nose and hands.
- These quickly form blisters or sores, which get bigger, become filled with pus and crust over.
- It is generally not sore, but can be itchy.
See a doctor for treatment.
- Treat as recommended by doctor.
- Cover with clean dressing.
- It’s best to keep children away from school/day care centre until blisters have dried out.
Ringworm is a fungal skin infection, like tinea, which can be caught from other children or from animals. It spreads via skin to skin contact.
- Raised red circle or ring on the skin, often with scaly or blistery patches.
- May appear on the face, hands, arms, nails or scalp.
- May be either sore or itchy.
See your chemist for a suitable cream or ointment.
Your child can go to school/day care once treatment has started.
- If you have cats or dogs, inspect them for signs of ringworm, and treat accordingly.
These are tiny mites which burrow into the skin and lay eggs. The time between exposure and illness is days to weeks.
- Severe itchiness for days or weeks, particularly at night, usually in warm parts of the body like armpits, genitals, and between fingers and toes.
- Starts with a small red line, or track mark.
- Later red lumps may appear on the limbs and trunk.
- Scratching may cause infection, resulting in red pusfilled sores like impetigo.
- See your doctor or chemist for a treatment.
- Notify your school/day care centre (Your child can go back after treatment.)
- Check other family members regularly.
Hand, foot and mouth infection
This is a viral skin infection, commonly occurring in summer and is usually mild, lasting less than a week. Time from exposure to outbreak is approximately 3 - 5 days.
- Child is often irritable with sudden onset of fever.
- Red itchy blotches appear on the palms of hands, soles of feet and in mouth.
- These develop into watery blisters, which can be quite painful. These peel off as skin dries.
- Paracetamol for pain and fever.
- Use lukewarm water for bathing.
- Offer cool drinks.
- Cold packs or wet packs may soothe the skin.
- Keep home and avoid contact with others until blisters are dry.
- Always wash hands frequently
Find more relevant articles and information
- Find out more about conjunctivitis
- Learn more about fungal infections
- Get the facts on head lice
- Learn more about parasitic infections
- Find out how best to treat head lice
This article was created from the Children’s Panadol First Five Booklet.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. Consult your healthcare professional if symptoms persist. Panadol is a registered trade mark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies.