Getting back to school is an exciting time of year for kids of all ages, whether they are going to a new school or being reunited with past classmates. Returning to class also means being in close contact with other kids allowing illnesses to spread easily.
There are some common bugs that spread at the beginning of the school year when kids first get back to the classroom, but with awareness and understanding they can be overcome.
Well known for being highly contagious, this eye infection is common in children and can be caused by different viruses, bacteria, allergens, or chemical irritants like chlorine. Pink eye is preventable by regularly washing hands with soap and warm water, so try to get them in the practice of doing so as often as possible. You can also talk to children about trying to avoid rubbing their eyes throughout the day. Symptoms of pink eye include:
- Swelling of the eye
- Redness of the eye
- Higher tear production
- Crusty eyelashes
The common cold is all too common, and may have some of its symptoms easily confused with the coronavirus in kids. The common cold is highly contagious, airborne, and also spread through physical contact. To prevent getting a cold, make sure your child is washing their hands and avoiding anyone who is symptomatic. If your child is showing any of these symptoms, you should try to keep them away from other kids as well:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Poor appetite
Fall is the start of flu season. The best defense against influenza is to get an annual flu shot. The flu vaccine is available to anyone over the age of 6 months. Proper sleep, diet, and exercise all strengthen the immune system and help fight the flu, as well as good health practices such as handwashing and avoiding touching your face. Flu symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Runny nose
Head lice are tiny crawling insects found on the scalp that feed on small amounts of blood. They do not carry disease and are not a sign of poor hygiene. They usually spread by direct contact from one person to another. They can also spread from indirect contact through items such as hair brushes, hats and pillows. It is possible to actually see the insect on a person’s scalp, but other common signs of these unwanted visitors include:
- Itching or tickling of the head, neck or ears
- Red bumps on the scalp or neck
- Lice eggs
Another common back to school illness is strep throat. Strep throat is a bacterial infection that spreads easily from child to child. Once it is confirmed with a strep test by a doctor, it is usually treated with antibiotics to prevent further complications. Good hand hygiene and not sharing utensils and drinks can help prevent its spread. Here are some symptoms to be on the lookout for with your child:
- Sore throat
- Painful to swallow
- Red and swollen tonsils
- White patches in the throat
- Tender lymph nodes in the neck
When going back to school this year, no matter the degree of restrictions in place due to the present coronavirus pandemic, it is critical to practice good hygiene. Some sicknesses are bound to spread, but you can help mitigate the spread of them to your child and their peers at school by paying better attention to handwashing and keeping to a healthy lifestyle.
The information and content on our website should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment or advice from your doctor.