To diagnose impetigo, a doctor typically examines the presence of sores on the patient’s face or body and may not require lab tests initially. However, if the sores do not improve with antibiotic treatment, the doctor may collect a sample of the fluid from a sore for further analysis to determine the most effective antibiotics, as certain strains of the bacteria responsible for impetigo have developed resistance to specific antibiotics.


For minor infections that haven’t spread, you can try treating the sores with an over-the-counter antibiotic cream or ointment. After applying the medicine, cover the area with a nonstick bandage to prevent the sores from spreading. Also, avoid sharing personal items like towels or sports equipment when you’re contagious.

If you have impetigo, your doctor may prescribe a prescription antibiotic ointment called mupirocin. Apply it directly to the sores two to three times a day for five to 10 days. Before using the ointment, soak the affected area in warm water or apply a wet cloth for a few minutes, then gently remove any scabs. Afterward, pat the area dry and cover it with a nonstick bandage.

If you have a more severe form of impetigo called ecthyma or if you have many impetigo sores, your doctor might give you antibiotics to take by mouth. Make sure to finish the entire course of medication, even if the sores seem to have healed.