(Tick them off with us in the school germ bingo!)
Schools back! Yay… and so are all those contagious school conditions you’ve avoided all school holidays.
If you’ve a child in an Australian school (or care centre) you’re bound to encounter at least one of these gross kid-infecting conditions this year. Unfortunately, ‘sharing’ is one of the things that big groups of children in small spaces are really good at – especially when it comes to nasties like nits, impetigo, warts and more.
We’ve identified the big five of back-to-school contagious school conditions – avoid them if you can!
Contagious school conditions and what to look for, what to do and who to see if any of your little peeps are struck with any of these…..
Gross Level One: Conjunctivitis (viral or bacterial)
If you’ve got a child with gunky, swollen, red looking eyes it’s likely they’ve got conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection, especially among children under five. Conjunctivitis can be caused by an infection (virus or bacteria) which is highly contagious. It’s best to see a doctor if your child has not had this condition before. If you’re confident in diagnosing and managing it yourself see your local pharmacist. Most importantly, your kid is contagious until the eyes are muck-free so keep them at home to avoid spreading it further! It’s gross – but you’ll all survive.
Gross Level Two: Warts
Not just the domain of witches and toads, warts are common in children especially on the fingers, hands, toes and knees. They usually cause no pain and can be treated by numerous simple methods if you want them removed. Warts are contagious and children should be encouraged to cover them if they cannot avoid touching or scratching them. Treating warts is no fairy tale but the good news is you don’t need to keep a child at home for them. If you’d like them ‘dealt with’ see your pharmacist or doctor for treatment options.
Gross Level Three: Nits
Parents need only read the words lice and they’ll find themselves scratching at the thought! Head lice are transferred from head-to-head contact so plaiting long hair, not sharing hats and not playing hairdressers are good tips if you wish to avoid them! If you see a child itching or complaining of a ‘wicked itch’ check the hairline behind and below the ears for both insects and eggs (which attach to the shaft of the hair). There’s numerous ways to now treat nits and until the infestation is under control a child should not attend school or care. Your pharmacist can assist you with how to manage nits. Be warned, a nit infestation can bring even the most resilient mother to her wits end!
Gross Level Four: Impetigo
If your child is sporting a bite or graze that has turned crusty, red, blistering or oozing it’s maybe become infected. Lucky you, you’re now dealing with impetigo. Impetigo is a common, highly contagious bacterial skin infection. It spreads rapidly to other sores on the body and the infection lives on anything the infected person has touched. Because of its ‘wildfire’ spreading its regularly called ‘school sores’. Good hygiene is imperative to control it but if you suspect your child might have impetigo head to the doctors’ quick smart and make sure you don’t send them back to class until its gone!
Gross Level Five: Gastro
We’d be lying if we said we’ve saved the best for last. If you’ve ever had gastro you know it’s a fate you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy! If your child is vomiting and/or has an upset tummy it’s likely they could have picked up the highly contagious Gastroenteritis. Whilst usually not serious (despite being horrific if you have a good dose of it) gastro can cause dehydration. Seek advice from a doctor immediately if your child cannot keep down a sip of liquid or has dehydration symptoms such as a dry mouth, no urine for 6 hours or more, or extreme lethargy. Your chemist can help you with products to manage the symptoms and aid in re-hydration. If your child has any signs of gastro do not send them to school or care until they are fully recovered!
Important points to avoid all contagious school conditions and nasties
- Wash your hands! Cough into your elbow! Etc!
Hygiene is key in managing all contagious diseases. Practice good hygiene in your home and encourage your children to do so as well!
- Fess up – you’re a grown up!
It’s responsible to advise your child’s school or care facility if your child is suffering from any of these ailments. Why? So other parents can watch for symptoms and the institution can manage the contagious spreading. Your privacy will be protected and nobody will embarrass you – these are a common illness that every child gets!
- Do the right thing!
Don’t be that parent that sends their child to school or care sick. It’s horrible for your child to be suffering and not comfortable and inconsiderate to others. If your child is not well, keep them at home!
- Ask for help!
Always seek medical advice if your child is sick or you are not confident in managing your child’s health concerns!
Here’s to a great school year for 2018! We wish you a gross-free, contagious school conditions free, 12 months of learning and fun!
About the Author
Tanya Burgess is a registered pharmacist and mother of 3 girls living in Western Australia. When she’s not wrangling her tribe or talking healthcare you’ll find her online at Baby Hints and Tips. This non-judgemental community is a hub for advice on all things pregnancy, baby, kids and parenting. Enjoy the support and fun at www.babyhintsandtips.com