Complications of impetigo are rare, but they can occur and occasionally be serious. Tell your GP if your symptoms change or get worse.
Some of the complications of an impetigo infection are described below.
Cellulitis occurs when the infection spreads to a deeper layer of skin. It can cause symptoms of red, inflamed skin, plus fever and pain. The condition can be treated with antibiotics, and paracetamol can be used to relieve pain.
See the Health A-Z topic about Cellulitis for more information.
Guttate psoriasis is a non-infectious skin condition that can develop in children and teenagers after a bacterial infection. It is usually more common after a throat infection, but some cases have been linked to impetigo.
Guttate psoriasis causes small (less than 1cm) droplet-shaped sores on the chest, arms, legs, and scalp. Creams can be used to control the symptoms of guttate psoriasis.
Scarlet fever is a rare bacterial infection that causes a fine, pink rash across the body. Associated symptoms of infection, such as nausea, pain and vomiting, are common. The condition is usually treated with antibiotics.
Scarlet fever is not usually serious but it is contagious. Therefore, it is important to isolate an infected child and avoid close physical contact. Keep your child away from school and other people until they have had at least five days of treatment with antibiotics.
See the Health A-Z topic about Scarlet fever for more information.
Septicaemia is a bacterial infection of the blood. It can cause symptoms of:
Septicaemia is a potentially life-threatening condition and requires immediate admission to hospital for treatment with antibiotics.
Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis is a very rare complication of impetigo. It is an infection of the small blood vessels in the kidneys.
The symptoms of post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis include:
- a change in the colour of your urine to a reddish-brown or cola colour
- swelling of the abdomen
- swelling of the face, eyes, feet and ankles
- a rise in blood pressure
- visible blood in the urine
- a decrease in the amount of urine you would normally produce
People with post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis will usually require immediate hospital treatment so that their blood pressure can be carefully monitored and controlled.
Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis can be fatal in adults, although deaths in children are rare. Less than 1% of children die as a result of the condition.