Posted: Mar 31, 2014 8:00 AM
 
Sure, you know the signs and symptoms of every cold and flu virus that’s found in your county, but what about the oddball illnesses? We found three illnesses your kids might get — and what you should watch for.

Got kids? Then you probably have a pretty good handle on common illnesses like colds and ear infections. But there are viruses lurking everywhere, waiting to infect your child with not only those symptoms that you recognize, but with odd symptoms you might not notice. We tackle three of the most common illnesses you might not recognize.

Fifth disease

Named for its spot on the list of common skin rash illnesses in children (No. 5) this rash is caused by parvovirus B19, which is shared via coughing and sneezing.

It may sound like something from Star Wars, but fifth disease isn’t all that mysterious. Named for its spot on the list of common skin rash illnesses in children (No. 5) this rash is caused by parvovirus B19, which is shared via coughing and sneezing. Initial symptoms include fever, headache and runny nose, which are not terribly uncommon in kids. But after a few days, the true tell-tale sign of fifth disease emerges — a rash on the face and body that resembles a “slapped cheek” look. A second appearance of the rash may occur after a few more days, and may be more widespread than the first rash. The rash may be itchy, and as it clears up it takes on a “lacy” appearance. In addition to the rash, many people infected with fifth disease develop painful and swollen joints, which may last for several weeks.

Fifth disease starts out similarly to a cold, and it may be the most contagious during this initial period, before other symptoms show up. The rash of fifth disease is so easily recognizable that many doctors can diagnose it at first glance. There is no vaccine or medication to combat fifth disease, but you can treat the symptoms to keep your child comfortable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the time the rash shows up you are most likely not contagious — and your child can return to day care or school.

Scabies

Scabies infestations have nothing to do with the cleanliness of your home or your child’s bathing habits.

We know — even the name sounds disgusting. Scabies is not an infection, but an actual infestation of mites that burrow beneath the skin, laying their eggs and hanging out for a while. So small they cannot even be seen on the skin, these little buggers can cause extreme discomfort and itching. The infected person might not feel itchy right away, as it takes time for your body to develop a reaction to the intruder. Mites can travel from person to person, and can be quite contagious. Scabies infestations have nothing to do with the cleanliness of your home or your child’s bathing habits. In fact, millions of people from all walks of life are infected with scabies each year.

How can you recognize scabies? Itching (often worse at night) and a rash are often the first symptoms. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the scabies rash may resemble a line, with tiny knots or bumps that resemble pimples. Scabies can make babies and small children very irritable, and can spread all over tiny bodies. The extreme itchiness can cause excessive scratching, which can lead to infection and be quite serious. Treatment involves not only the patient, but those in close contact with him. Topical treatments — as well as antihistamine to control itching — are the most common, and usually take up to four weeks to completely get rid of the problem.

Impetigo

A bacterial infection of the skin that is highly contagious, impetigo usually appears as patches of tiny blisters on the skin, with a pale brown crust formed over the top.

While impetigo is the third most common skin condition in kids, it is still not something all moms recognize right away. A bacterial infection of the skin that is highly contagious, impetigo usually appears as patches of tiny blisters on the skin, with a pale brown crust formed over the top. It is caused by the bacteria known as group A streptococcus — also responsible for strep throat. The crust is formed by fluid that weeps from the sores, and impetigo often spreads from one area of the body to others when the infected person scratches these lesions and spreads the fluid. Minor cuts and scrapes, as well as eczema, insect bites or other rashes are prone to impetigo infection when they are scratched repeatedly.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most impetigo infections will respond well to antibiotics — either topical or in a pill or liquid form. It is important to use the antibiotics as prescribed, and for the full course of treatment, to ensure that the impetigo will clear up. Because it is very contagious, it is important to limit physical contact with friends, classmates and family members and not to share linens, pillows, towels, combs or other personal grooming items.

Itchy yet? While your child may not contract any of these three illnesses, it’s always better to be an informed mom — and to watch for these symptoms when your child is ill.

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