How to Prevent Childhood Infections

It's always been tough being a kid, but for those who pick up one of the contagious pestilences often found in preschool or day-care settings, it can be a real pain. But the good news is that few of the viruses, fungi, and microscopic critters that plague youngsters leave the body with serious damage or aftereffects. In this article, we'll take a look at fifth disease, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, head lice, pinworms, ringworm, and roseola. Here's a quick preview:

  • Preventing Fifth DiseaseFifth disease is actually a mild infection, not a disease. It's caused by parvovirus B19. Fifth disease got its name because it's one of five childhood illnesses that were common in the prevaccination era. Fifth disease sufferers usually have coldlike symptoms that are followed by a bright red rash. There's no vaccination for this infection, but the good news is that most people recover from it quickly and without complications.
  • Preventing Hand-Foot-and-Mouth DiseaseHand-foot-and-mouth disease (or HFMD) is a highly contagious infection, but its symptoms are relatively mild. It can cause a skin rash or blisters in the mouth and on the hands and feet, but most people recover from this infection in seven to ten days without treatment. Because HFMD is so contagious, it's best to avoid contact with infected people and to be vigilant about personal hygiene.
  • Preventing Head LiceHead lice can spread rapidly through a group of children, whether at school, in a play group, or at a slumber party. Once a child is infected (or an adult, for that matter), the hard work of eradicating the infestation begins. Shampoos are available to eliminate head lice, and you'll need to comb through the infested hair with a fine tooth comb to search for nits.
  • Preventing PinwormsPinworm infections are unpleasant, but they are easy to treat. Pinworms, small white worms that live in the infected person's rectum, are the most common type of roundworm infestations in the United States. Pinworms are treated with chewable tablets dosed two weeks apart, but you'll also need to make sure you clean vigorously to keep other family members from picking up the infection.
  • Preventing RingwormRingworm is a fungal infection, not an actual worm, that causes red blotches on an infected person's skin. Ringworm is spread through contact with infected animals or people and through objects or soil that harbor the fungus. This infection is easily treated with oral or topical antifungal medicines.
  • Preventing RoseolaRoseola most commonly affects children younger than 2 years old. It causes a very high, sudden fever, followed by a pink rash. Roseola generally runs its course without medical intervention. There's no vaccine for roseola -- you'll have to rely on good hygiene to keep it away.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.