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Contagious Childhood Diseases

Updated on January 12, 2012

There are many types of diseases that children may acquire throughout the course of their lives. As parents we can monitor them as closely as possible, but, short of placing them in a sterile bubble, they will not be protected from everything. Three of the highly infectious and contagious diseases are: hand, foot, and mouth disease, or HFMD; impetigo; and pink eye .


HFMD shows up on palms and soles of feet
HFMD shows up on palms and soles of feet

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: HMFD

HMFD is a virus that is spread through direct contact. It is not the same, nor should it be confused with, the animal virus called: Foot and Mouth Disease, (FMD), also called Hoof and Mouth Disease. FMD affects animals, such as cows, pigs, and sheep, while HMFD affects humans. The virus is not interchangeable.

How it spreads

Direct contact include, unwashed hands that touch others, saliva exchange, mucous contamination, such as a runny nose, or organisms that are transmitted through touching contaminated stool, as in diaper changes. Practicing good hand washing technique is imperative in the prevention of spreading germs.

Time tables

Children, ages ten and younger, are the primary victims of this virus. Predominantly seen during the summer season or early fall, it can also show itself in late spring. The incubation period, time in which the virus is in the body before symptoms develop, is three to six days. The highest time for contagion is during the first week. Recuperation period is approximately a week or two; however, it can remain in the body for weeks after the symptoms have disappeared, meaning that the germ can be passed along after the child’s symptoms have subsided and he is back on the playground.

Symptoms

The first sign of illness is general malaise, poor appetite, sore throat, and fever. Blisters on the palms, soles, buttocks, genitals and legs will show up a couple of days after the fever. Blisters also are noted on the tongue, inside of the cheeks and gum areas. This causes discomfort with eating or drinking.

A blood or stool sample can be collected for evidence of HMFD; however, it takes between two to four weeks for the results. By this time symptoms have abated. It is best to take the expertise of a reputable pediatrician or nurse practitioner if you are unsure what your child has contracted.

Treatment

Antibiotics are not used in the treatment of the HMFD virus and there is no vaccine to inoculate a child against acquiring it. However, once a child is affected immunity results. Comfort measures to treat the symptoms such as acetaminophen for fever, sprays or mouthwash that numb the painful mouth blisters, and non-acidic fluids: ice chips, water, popsicles…to avoid dehydration are part of the treatment plan. Avoid giving aspirin or aspirin products to children, because they have been linked to Reyes Syndrome. Aseptic measures are necessary to decrease the possibility of further contamination. Cleaning surfaces with bleach or a bleach product is important, but the first line of attack against passing on unwanted microorganisms is good hand washing technique.

Fluid filled postules erupt around the face with Impetigo
Fluid filled postules erupt around the face with Impetigo

Impetigo

Impetigo

It is the third most common skin condition and it is highly contagious. Commonly caused by staphylococcus bacteria, it can also erupt from streptococcus. It is acquired through contact from an infected person, as well as any contaminated objects: towels, wash cloths, or toys. Entering the body from a cut the incubation period is four to ten days after exposure.

Who is susceptible?

Anyone with a compromised immune system is at greater risk. In addition, a person with a history of eczema or diabetes is also a prime target.

Symptoms

Appearing initially as a small, red, itchy spot on the face near the mouth, nose, or behind the ears, it quickly develops into a crusty blister “filled” with a golden yellow fluid. Additionally, other red spots may orbit around the original one. Fluid will eventually leak from the blisters and the “rash” will continue to spread across the body.

Treatment

Because it can look similar to other forms of dermatitis it is important to get a clinical examination. Once it is diagnosed treatment with oral antibiotics is begun in order to kill the bacteria. Along with this is the treatment for the skin condition with a medicated ointment.

Keep the child’s fingernails cut short, remind her to wash thoroughly and avoid scratching, and do not share towels, face cloths, combs, brushes or other hair products.

Children may return to school after the symptoms of blisters have run its course.



Pink Eye results in red, itchy eyes.
Pink Eye results in red, itchy eyes.

Pink Eye

Pink Eye

Pink eye is a highly contagious eye condition. It causes red, swollen eyes, (conjunctivitis), in the conjunctiva and eye lids. Children and adults alike are affected. Pink eye can be viral, bacterial, or from an allergic reaction. There is also a form of pink eye that is rarely seen in the United States, however, it is frequently found in the countries of Africa and the Middle East. This is called Chlamydia Pink Eye and is brought on by the sexually transmitted disease of Chlamydia.

Symptoms

Viral pink eye produces teary eyes that produce clear drainage, often accompanied by a photosensitivity. Itching, burning and redness are other common signs. Bacterial pink eye is caused by either a staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria. Symptoms are similar to the viral, only the discharge is now yellow to yellow green, and eye pain may be experienced. Pink eye that is caused by seasonal allergies will produce itchy eyes with a clear, watery discharge. Other conjunctivitis may be brought on by animal dander, smoke, or chemicals.

Symptoms of pink eye are intense the first several days and may last up to two weeks. It is always wise to have any conjunctivitis checked out by a healthcare professional.

Treatment

Relief from itchy eyes caused by allergies, smoke, or chemicals can be treated with artificial eye drops. If bacteria are the cause of the conjunctivitis it is important to obtain antibacterial eye drops or ointment. Always wash your hands before and after applying medication. A warm, moist cloth application is also recommended for immediate relief. Keep contact lenses out for the duration of the infection, as well as holding all eye makeup application due to high risk for re-contamination and further irritating the eyes.




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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      acaetnna-thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you have use for it one day, (smile).

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 

      6 years ago from Guildford

      Really useful information, thank you Denise.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Kris H-thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. That is a great point: how many germs are passed on from one child to another in a day care? And, it really can't be prevented completely. Thanks.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      Very useful information especially in this day and age when so many kids are in day care - it's so easy for these things to spread! Great hub:)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Kelley-nice to meet you. I appreciate your comments about this hub. Looking forward to reading your hubs.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for the great article. I'm a pediatric nurse and it's important that parents and those around children review this information. Thanks again.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you, Admiral_Joraxx for reading and commenting. It can be overwhelming to new parents that are attempting to keep their babies germ free. Of course, kids will get sick and it is important to know what some of these common, nonthreatening ailments are.

      I recently heard that there is a recurrance now of Measles-on the rise in kids. That's too bad.

      The biggest health issues for kids, I believe, at least in our country, is the obesity in children. It is epidemic. I've written a couple of hubs about this problem, but change is coming slowly. People have gotten into some awful habits. Thanks for the votes. :)

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile image

      Admiral_Joraxx 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      Very useful information here Denise, well, not for me but I just learned from this that there are so much everywhere-born deceases out there that can harm and put little children in danger. The greater danger that lies with it is their total unawareness of these deceases, you know kids. They are newbies of the earth. It's very important that we grown ups are well oriented with this to be able to guide and protect them effectively. Great hub here. 1 vote up, useful and interesting=).

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi JT-thank you. I appreciate your input.

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Hi Denise Handlon,

      This is a very informative hub especially for parents. Thank you.

      JT

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Laura-which one are you referring to? The HFMD or the Impetigo? I wish you well in recovering-not fun! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 

      7 years ago from Aurora

      Thanks. I got to know about the bacterial type recently. Very uncomfortable.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow, thank you very much ubanichijioke. I'm glad you found it helpful and interesting. Cheers to you.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      7 years ago from Lagos

      You ve taken tremendous steps providing us this vital information. It is well accepted. Voted awesome, useful, beautiful and interesting. You ve done well.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi EZKay-thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you thought it was useful.

    • Ez Kay profile image

      Ez Kay 

      7 years ago

      Interesting article you actually shared in here and i so much enjoyed reading from you.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Nice to meet you, Dr Durreshahwar Pervez- I am actually a psychiatric nurse. I've worked both in hospice care and mental health, but the longest has been m.h.(26 years now) What is your background? Thanks for reading and commenting on this hub.

    • drdspervez profile image

      drdspervez 

      7 years ago from Pakistan

      Dear Denise Handlon, your hub is great and I rated you up. :) It's good to know that you have been working in the hospital also so you know a lot about the diseases.

      DR.DURRESHAHWAR PERVEZ

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi E.M. - thanks for the feedback. Love the profile pic. :)

    • E M Smith profile image

      E M Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

    • E M Smith profile image

      E M Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      A wealth of useful information

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Kim-how are you doing? Thanks for reading the hub-sorry I've been lame getting over to your spot. I've been trying to do the hubmob challenge and it whipped me this w/e. :) Chicken pox, eh? My oldest daughter had it just before I remarried. She stood up in the wedding, but couldn't make the reception-bummer for her! Thanks for the feedback.

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 

      8 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      Very organized and informative Hub. I never had any of those childhood diseases (not even pink eye). I once had an allergic "break-out" that resembled measles but that diagnosis was never confirmed. So I guess I'll never know. I also had chicken pox which was the most fun I had at the age of 10. ;-)

      Great Hub once again!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Lilly and Pamela-thanks for stopping by and reading the hub. :)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I think yo summed up the most common diseases for children very well.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 

      8 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      Very Informative - Young children are targets for all kinds of stuff...thank you for bringing awareness to those who may not know. Great Hub.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hello Lamme, nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping in to read the hub and comments. (Love your profile pic BTW)

      Lucky you-mom of five. It's an ongoing job keeping them healthy and safe!

    • Lamme profile image

      Lamme 

      8 years ago

      Great hub, very informative! As a mom of 5, I'm happy to say I've only had experience with pink eye ... and way too much experience at that! Thanks for sharing this.

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