Common Childhood Illnesses

Common Childhood Illnesses

Chickenpox comes 12 to 20 days after contact with a child with chickenpox or an adult with shingles. The child is infectious and may have a fever for two days before the rash appears.

The rash comes on the body, face and limbs, and can be particularly sore if spots appear on the eyelids or in the mouth.

The spots do not all develop at the same time. Some spots will just be forming at the same time as others have already blistered and crusted.

The best treatment is to give a simple antihistamine syrup to stop itching, and to apply calamine ointment to the spots. Junior aspirin in the correct dosage should be given to reduce the fever. The child is no longer infectious when all the crusts have gone.

Diphtheria is deadly. This is what the advertisement for immunization used to say — and it is true. Immunization has dramatically reduced the number of deaths from diphtheria to almost nil. If worries about the effectiveness of other vaccines and the risks from them (such as the risks from whooping cough vaccines) lead to mothers failing to immunize their children against diphtheria, then we could see terrible outbreaks of this disease again.

Diphtheria causes a sore throat, cough and very high fever, and a grey membrane develops on the back of the throat. It has a high mortality rate. Vaccination against the disease is highly successful and there are minimal side effects.

German Measles (Rubella) comes on two to three weeks after contact and causes a fine pin-point rash on the face and body. In typical cases the glands at the base of the neck can be felt, and this helps to diagnose this condition from other skin rashes. Young infants often get a skin rash that looks like German Measles but is not. This may give rise to the belief that one can get German Measles twice. Like other infectious fevers this is probably not true. Either way, it is not a very significant disease except for the effects it can have on an unborn child when it is caught by a pregnant mother within the first three months of pregnancy. Girls should therefore be vaccinated against it. Once the rash has gone, the child is no longer infectious.

Measles The rash comes up between one and three weeks after contact. The first sign of infection may be small white spots inside the cheeks, and they appear several days before the rash appears. The child is already infectious even before the rash comes out and remains infectious until the rash has gone. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads itll over the body. The eyes may be sore and the child may find it more convenient to be in a dark room if they hurt.

One of the main problems of measles is that it commonly gives rise to complications such as ear infections or pneumonia. It is well worth being vaccinated against measles.

Whooping cough Unlike many other diseases, immunity to whooping cough is not transmitted before birth by the mother. It may therefore affect young infants and can be very serious. The child gets paroxysms of coughing, and a typical ‘whoop’ is heard as the child draws in breath again. Permanent lung damage can occur. The child may be infectious for many weeks.