Public or private schools alike can be breeding grounds for common illnesses in children. Especially as the colder weather hits it is a good idea to be aware of the most common illnesses that are passed around and how to protect your child from potentially becoming ill.
They feed off of blood from the scalp and survive from the warmth their human host provides. Head lice when fully grown are light brown, almost transparent in color, and about the size of a sesame seed. Head lice can be tricky to spot as they maneuver through hair strands quickly and scurry away from light. Nits, or lice eggs, are usually seen as an indication your child has head lice. White in color, they will be laid near the base of the scalp on individual hair strands with a secretion that makes them difficult to remove. They will not easily flake off such as dandruff or dry skin.
Many people believe that as colder weather starts to fall that head lice don’t spread. The truth is, head lice happen all year round. Indoors where it is nice and warm, head lice are commonly passed through direct head to head contact, sharing hats or coats or hair brushes and accessories. Children who play together, participate in sports or other activities are more likely to spread lice or catch head lice.
Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease – A virus that results in open sores inside the mouth, rashes or blisters on the body, especially the hands and feet.
This illness, while not serious, can be painful and highly contagious. Contact through someone who has the virus, or any number of items that have been infected with the virus is the most common way it is spread. Anything your child touches at school, a desktop, a door handle, a book could be the cause of spreading. Symptoms include high fever, painful blisters in the mouth and tongue and a loss of appetite. The rash likely appears a few days after the initial symptoms start. Washing hands thoroughly and keeping sick children home is the best way to prevent the spreading of Hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
Pink Eye, or Conjunctivitis – This disease is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin clear tissue that lines the eye and eyelid.
Pink eye causes intense itching and swelling in the eyes. This is an infection most people will experience a few times in their life. A highly contagious inflammation of the eye, it is usually diagnosed by children who wake up with their eyes crusted shut from a yellow discharge indicating the eye is infected. Children catch this disease by contracting the contagion on their hands through school or everyday activities and then rubbing or touching their eyes. Most often visiting the doctor for prescription eye drops will clear up an infection with no long-term side effects.
Strep throat is diagnosed through lab testing from a medical office. It is commonly spread through the contact of someone else carrying strep through mucus or surfaces infected. Early symptoms include a sore throat, fever, loss of appetite, tiredness, and upset stomach. The swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck is the main symptom that often separates it from other, viral throat infections which are also common in children. It is not going to subside on its own and is treated with basic antibiotics. Experts estimate over 3 million children will contract strep throat each year, making it a common problem in schools.