Your child’s first day at preschool comes with all its own emotions. It can be overwhelming for both you and your child. On the one hand, you are excited and proud, and on the other, you are dreading it and questioning where the time went and how in the blink of an eye, your baby has now become a little person with a mind of their own. While this may be an emotional time, it’s also a time to start being vigilant about taking extra measures to ensure that your child’s immune system is stronger and healthier. Preschools are a sure way to expose your child to new germs and viruses after all. Just thinking about the sandpit is enough to make any parent get goosebumps but the good news is that while kids may be kids and some illnesses are inevitable, there are ways we can try to help prevent, manage and alleviate some of the symptoms.
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Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease is a virus that is common amongst young children under the age of 10. It is caused by a virus that can easily be contracted from close skin contact, sneezing, coughing, kissing or sharing drinks. Symptoms usually include feeling under the weather, sore throat, pain, loss of appetite, rashes or spots on the palms of hands or on the soles of the feet and irritability. While this illness is uncomfortable, the good news is that it is not serious and usually clears up on its own within 7 to 10 days at home. While there is no treatment for Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease there are ways to make your child more comfortable when dealing with the pain.
For sore throats try giving them a cold treat such as frozen yoghurt, ice creams, or smoothies. Numbing mouth sprays also help along with ibuprofen or Tylenol. Be sure that you do not give your child aspirin as this may cause further harm than good.
Since the virus is highly contagious, you may want to use preventative measures for yourself. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly especially after wiping up spit or a runny nose.
Gastroenteritis is an infection of the intestines which is very common amongst children and adults and much like any other virus, it is contagious and can be spread via close contact with the person who has it or by touching objects that have also come into contact with the infected person such as food, water, toilet seats and surfaces. The symptoms usually include mild fever, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and dehydration. In most cases of gastroenteritis, it usually clears up in a few days with the help of prescribed medication from your GP.
Since dehydration may cause further complications, try to keep your child hydrated with milk, water or an oral rehydration solution which can be purchased over the counter from most pharmacies.
Once the infection has cleared and your child is ready to go back to school, start teaching them about the importance of washing their hands regularly. Get the preschool handlers and teachers to notify you immediately if diarrhoea or vomiting returns so you can treat it again as soon as possible.
Pink eye or conjunctivitis is another highly contagious bacterial or viral infection that causes an infection and inflammation of the inner eyelid and outer membrane of the eyeball. The symptoms usually include discharge or crusting around the eyelid, redness, itching and continuous tearing of the eye. Since it is contagious it’s best to keep your child at home until the infection subsides which usually happens when artificial tears are applied or with the help of an antibiotic eye drop that your GP has prescribed.
To help your child feel more comfortable, try applying a lint-free rag that has soaked in cool water to the infected eye, this will help soothe the irritation. If the infection has only spread to one eye, make sure you do not apply that same rag to the eye that has not been infected.
Another great way to relieve inflammation at home is to use a green tea bag that has been boiled and cooled to touch. Place the tea bag over the infected eye for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can soak a lint-free rag in green tea and apply it to the eye.
Our Take Away Message
While it is inevitable that at some point your child will contract a contagious illness such as the 3 common ones listed above, it is important that you do not panic. It is part of growing up and with the proper care and treatments, they will be back to their old selves in no time and the good news is that their immune systems will only get stronger. Make a point to teach your children about washing their hands regularly as this is one of the best forms of prevention when it comes to viral and bacterial infections such as pink eye, tinea, hand-foot-and-mouth disease, flu and gastroenteritis.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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