The information provided below is for readers based in the United States of America. Readers outside of the United States of America should seek the information from local sources.

What is impetigo during pregnancy?

Impetigo is a condition in which Streptococcus or Staphylococcus bacteria gets inside the skin through either of two mechanisms. Either there is a cut or other injury through which the bacteria enter, or the skin is damaged from a condition, such as insect bites, scabies, or head lice, also providing the bacteria with an entrance. The infection is very contagious and causes sores that can be itchy with blisters. There are two main subtypes of impetigo. Comprising 70 percent of cases, nonbullous impetigo (also called impetigo contagiosa), features honey-colored crusts on the extremities and face. This type of impetigo is caused by either Streptococcus pyogenes or Staphylococcus aureus. S. aureus also causes the other subtype, known as bullous impetigo. Accounting for 30 percent of impetigo cases, bullous impetigo features flaccid bullae and is characterized by droopy blisters generally in locations where skin rubs together, such as in your armpits.

How common is impetigo during pregnancy?

Impetigo affects mostly children, accounting for approximately 10 percent of pediatric skin problems. However, pregnant women also can be affected, among adults in general, as the condition is very contagious. You are at a greater risk of catching impetigo during the summer and early fall, and if you live in a warm, humid climate.

How is impetigo during pregnancy diagnosed?

Impetigo is diagnosed by way of examination of the sores and blisters and by swabbing samples from those sores and testing the samples for the presence of the bacteria.

Does impetigo cause problems during pregnancy?

Impetigo causes sores and blisters that can break, oozing out fluid, with itching along the way. The infection can lead to swollen lymph nodes and fever. Additionally, you can infect other people until the blisters all give way to scabs that have dried and crusted over for at least 24 hours. A fever can cause or exacerbate dehydration. If your impetigo is caused by S. pyogenes, failure to treat this with an antibiotic can lead to damage to one of your heart valves, leading to long-term heart trouble.

Does impetigo during pregnancy cause problems for the baby?

If you develop a fever, some studies are suggesting that this increases the babys risk of having congenital defects involving the heart and other organs. Also, a recent study identified maternal fever as a possible risk for the baby developing autism spectrum disorder.

What to consider about taking medications when you are pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • The risks to yourself and your baby if you do not treat the impetigo
  • The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are pregnant
  • The risks and benefits of each medication you use when you are breastfeeding

What should I know about using medication to treat impetigo during pregnancy?

For treating fever, acetaminophen and paracetamol are thought to be safe during pregnancy. For the treatment of the infection, there are several different antibiotic options, including many that are not considered dangerous during pregnancy. Antibiotic therapy is very important both to eliminate the infection quickly and to keep it from spreading to prevent long-term complications, such as a damaged heart valve.

Who should NOT stop taking medication for impetigo during pregnancy?

If you are given antibiotic therapy, it is very important that you do not stop the treatment before it is completed. If you experience adverse effects from the therapy, notify your doctor immediately because it may be necessary to stop the treatment (for instance, if you are having an allergic reaction to the treatment). Still, it also may be necessary to switch you to a different medication.

What should I know about choosing a medication for my impetigo during pregnancy?

It is important to stay in communication with your health care provider as the release of new studies over time can change the outlook on the role of specific medications during pregnancy.

You may find Pregistrys expert reports about the medications to treat this condition here. Additional information can also be found in the sources listed below.

What should I know about taking a medication for my impetigo when I am breastfeeding?

Impetigo is extremely contagious, and thus, the baby can catch it while nursing if you have sores or blisters. Consequently, it is important to take your antibiotic therapy. You may need to hold off on nursing until the condition has resolved to the point of the blisters crusting over. If you are going to be continuing on an antibiotic regimen when you are cleared to breastfeed, your doctor can select an antibiotic that is safe for nursing mothers.

What alternative therapies besides medications can I use to treat my impetigo during pregnancy?

Therapies that can be used in addition to your medication include washing affected areas of skin with warm, soapy water, and covering sores with waterproof dressings. Claims regarding the effectiveness of various oils, honey, and other natural treatments are not supported by evidence.

What can I do for myself and my baby when I have impetigo during pregnancy?

It is very important to follow the instructions of your physician.

Resources for impetigo in pregnancy:

For more information about impetigo during and after pregnancy, contact (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or contact the following organizations:


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General information

It is very common for women to worry about having a miscarriage or giving birth to a child with a birth defect while they are pregnant. Many decisions that women make about their health during pregnancy are made with these concerns in mind.

For many women these concerns are very real. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. These rates are considered the background population risk, which means they do not take into consideration anything about the health of the mom, the medications she is taking, or the family history of the mom or the baby’s dad. A number of different things can increase these risks, including taking certain medications during pregnancy.

It is known that most medications, including over-the-counter medications, taken during pregnancy do get passed on to the baby. Fortunately, most medicines are not harmful to the baby and can be safely taken during pregnancy. But there are some that are known to be harmful to a baby’s normal development and growth, especially when they are taken during certain times of the pregnancy. Because of this, it is important to talk with your doctor or midwife about any medications you are taking, ideally before you even try to get pregnant.

If a doctor other than the one caring for your pregnancy recommends that you start a new medicine while you are pregnant, it is important that you let them know you are pregnant.

If you do need to take a new medication while pregnant, it is important to discuss the possible risks the medicine may pose on your pregnancy with your doctor or midwife. They can help you understand the benefits and the risks of taking the medicine.

Ultimately, the decision to start, stop, or change medications during pregnancy is up to you to make, along with input from your doctor or midwife. If you do take medications during pregnancy, be sure to keep track of all the medications you are taking.

Medications for Impetigo

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