There are a number of common illnesses in school children. Knowing what to look for and how to treat them can help keep your child and entire family safe from these contagious diseases.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection spread through contact with surfaces that have recently been touched by those with the infection. It produces itchy, cracked red skin on the feet, especially around the toes, and an unpleasant odor. Over-the-counter remedies can help clear it up.
To avoid catching it, send your child to school and public swimming pools with shower clogs. Keep feet and shoes dry with antifungal foot powder. Wash socks often and avoid letting the feet get too sweaty and damp – the perfect conditions for the athlete’s foot fungus to thrive.
The common cold, medically known as rhinovirus, is spread through coughing and sneezing. The germs can travel considerable distances and also be picked up from surfaces where the droplets have landed. Washing hands often (especially before and after sneezing or blowing one’s nose) and staying away from sick people, can both help avoid catching a cold. So too can wiping down surfaces with disinfectant, such as countertops, doorknobs, shared phones, remote controls, computer keyboards, and so on.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an infection in the eye that causes it to redden and become bloodshot. It is extremely itchy and the eyes often ooze pus which can become crusty around the eyes, especially while your child is sleeping. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious from direct contact with a person who has it and who has rubbed their eyes. Children can also catch it from shared towels and pillows.
Wash hands often and teach children to keep their hands off their face and out of their eyes. The doctor will prescribe antibiotic drops to help clear it up.
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is similar to a cold, but comes with more severe symptoms such as aches, pain, fever, and listlessness. It is spread through coughing and sneezing. The best way to prevent it is to get an annual flu shot. If your child does still catch it, antivirals from the doctor can clear it up more quickly. Prevent catching and spreading it the same way as you would colds.
Head lice are small parasites that live on the blood from the scalp. They crawl from one head to another, lay eggs, nits, and hide in the hair behind the ears and at the nape of the neck. Clearing them involves either shampoo with pesticides or a range of natural treatments, including a fine-toothed comb, to get out all the nits. It can spread via shared soft furnishings, combs and brushes, so keep everything in the house vacuumed and well-washed.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain. Meningitis can start out like a cold or flu and is spread the same way, but it can soon progress to a serious headache and a stiff neck. It can be caused by a virus or bacteria.
Viral meningitis, the more common and milder form, is prominent in the late summer and early fall, just when the kids are heading back to school. Bacterial meningitis is more serious, but if you have kept up to date with your child’s vaccination schedule, they are at much less risk.
Now that you know which are the most common contagious illnesses school-aged children tend to contract, teach your kids how to avoid catching them, or spreading them through sharing too much.