Kids should learn to share, right? But, gee whiz…. When it comes to bugs
and other contagious health problems in school, does your kid have to get
everything that’s passed around?
Packed into a classroom and messing around on a playground or locker
room, kids do tend to share lots of health problems in school. What can
you do about it? And when should you be concerned? Christine Jacobsen
from Health Mart Pharmacy shares a few things to think about.
Does head lice top your list of concerns? Although these creepy insects
might disgust you, it may help to know that they don’t cause diseases or
other health problems – other than maybe a red, rash-like reaction. Of
course, that doesn’t mean you want to ignore them since they spread really
easily. Follow up with the doctor if your child complains of an itchy scalp or
you catch sight of tiny white eggs firmly attached at hair roots. These are
often confused with dandruff. Your child’s doctor may prescribe a
treatment and other over-the-counter (OTC) shampoos or rinses. Follow
directions closely and be sure to ask me if you have any questions.
Viral infections such as chicken pox are common, too. Many are contagious
before skin lesions appear. But be sure to keep your child home until the
sixth day after the rash appears unless all lesions are dry and crusted over.
To prevent this infection, have your child vaccinated.
Fifth disease is another viral disease. It causes a lacy rash on arms and
redness on cheeks that looks like the result of a well-placed slap. Unless
your child feels too sick, there’s no need to stay home. That’s because the
disease only spreads before symptoms appear. However, tell the school so
female employees of childbearing age can be notified. Fifth disease can
severely hurt a developing fetus.
Although there are many kinds of hepatitis, hepatitis A is the most
common type in children. This virus is in blood and bowel movements, so
hand washing is really important to prevent its spread. A child with
hepatitis A should stay home until a week after the onset of illness and
until any jaundice (yellowed skin) disappears. Another disease spread
through bodily fluids is HIV/AIDS. Although it can cause anxiety among
parents, remember that casual physical contact – such as hugging, holding
hands, or sharing a glass – does not transfer this virus.
Then, there’s the run-of-the mill colds and flu. Deciding whether or not to
send your child to school can be a challenge. General rule of thumb? If
there’s a fever, keep ’em home – until the fever’s been gone for at least 24
If there’s no fever, more than likely it’s a cold and it’s okay to go to school.
When in doubt, check with your child’s doctor. And, don’t forget the flu
vaccine, which is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
Stop by, and I can advise you on the best way to keep your child
comfortable while the cold or flu runs its course. I can also give you a brief
overview of prescription or OTC treatments for the more common
childhood viral infections.
For more information and advice, contact your local Health mart
1. American Academy of Pediatrics: “Contagious Health Problems in
2. WebMD: “Your Child: Too Sick for School?” http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/your-
3. American Academy of Pediatrics: “The Flu: A Guide for Parents.” http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-