The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) have issued draft antimicrobial prescribing guidance on impetigo.

The condition is normally treated with an antibiotic to help reduce the spread of infection and speed up recovery, but the two organisations have now found that a topical antiseptic such as hydrogen peroxide 1% cream is ‘just as effective’ at treating non‑bullous impetigo as a topical antibiotic.

As a result, NICE has issued a statement saying that topical antiseptics should instead be offered to people with localised, non-bullous impetigo if they aren’t systemically unwell or at risk of developing any complications.

Further, the public advice body advised that if antiseptic treatment is not suitable or a person has widespread non-bullous impetigo, a topical antibiotic should be given instead (fusidic acid 2%). An oral antibiotic (flucloxacillin) is also an option for people with widespread non-bullous impetigo and should be given first line if the person has bullous impetigo or if they are systemically unwell or at risk of developing any complications.

Impetigo is a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects the surface of the skin and is characterised by red sores and blisters which can develop into yellow/brown crusted patches.