Common Skin Infections

Kids can develop all kinds of skin conditions ranging from a mild rash to a serious and painful infection. Some of the most common skin infections may require prescription-strength antibiotics, and it is important to identify just which type of infection you are dealing with in order to determine the best treatment. We’ll cover 5 of the most common below:

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Does your child have a yellow crusty rash around the mouth or nose, especially after recovering from a cold? It’s likely impetigo, a little-known but commonly acquired infection that often results from skin irritation like that caused by frequent nose blowing or recent open wounds. Impetigo presents as either a crusted rash, blisters, or ulcers that can occur anywhere on the body, and it spreads quickly — so discourage scratching! The infection is caused by either Streptococcus or Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and usually requires topical or oral antibiotics. Mild cases may be cleared up by an OTC cream such as Neosporin, but a prescription-strength remedy is most often needed.


Eczema is a skin condition typically caused by allergies and other skin irritants, but you may not have realized it can also easily get infected. Severe eczema rashes can “weep” and crust over, leaving them vulnerable to infection. Eczema is often treated with topical corticosteroids (such as Hydrocortisone) and oral or topical antibiotics if it gets infected. Call a doctor if an infection or eczema flare-up persists and is causing your child discomfort and pain.


Despite its name, ringworm is a fungal infection — it is not caused by a worm at all. Ringworm is characterized by a red scaly or bumpy patch that often appears in a ring pattern. These sores can become very painful and require OTC antifungal topical treatments or a prescription treatment in more serious cases. Ringworm is contagious and can spread fairly easily from person to person (especially in damp, warm environments) or even from animals to people.

Athlete’s Foot

As a type of fungal infection in the same family as ringworm, athlete’s foot also thrives in warm and moist environments, and is more common in older children who spend time playing sports. Athlete’s foot can be highly contagious and spreads fairly quickly through a locker room, public shower, pool, or gym. Walking barefoot in these settings puts you at risk, so encourage your kids to always wear sandals when they are in these environments. Symptoms of athlete’s foot include bumps and blisters, cracked skin between the toes, a rash or scaling, redness, and even a foul odor. Treatment is usually simple, and the condition can be managed through OTC remedies such as foot powder. If athlete’s foot persists or is causing extreme pain and itching, a doctor can prescribe a stronger treatment to help.


Just like impetigo, cellulitis is most often caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus aureus. Cellulitis usually begins on existing skin wounds and causes the surrounding skin to become tender, warm, swollen, and red. Cellulitis can cause a fever and swollen lymph nodes if the infection begins to spread, and it must be monitored closely to prevent serious infection. A course of oral antibiotics is usually sufficient for treating mild to moderate cases of cellulitis. In severe cases, sepsis can occur, and IV antibiotics may be required. Call a doctor right away if you suspect your child may have cellulitis.

If you suspect that your child may need topical or oral antibiotics for a skin infection, give us a call today and come in for an appointment with one of our friendly board-certified pediatricians.