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Recognizing Common Childhood Illnesses

Recognizing Common Childhood Illnesses

by Must ReadsMarch 1, 2014

If you’re a parent, you’re probably familiar with the panic that arises when you notice an unusual change in your child. It can be difficult to know what’s wrong with your little one, especially if they’re too young to speak up and tell you what’s bothering them.

Unfortunately, children are prone to particular illnesses, many of which can be highly contagious and spread quickly between families and friends. Here is a quick guide to spotting the most common conditions that could show up in the childhood years.


This condition, also known as atopic dermatitis, is extremely common in children and can continue well into the adult years. There are patterns that set eczema apart from an everyday rash, and spotting them can help you know how to treat your child’s skin quickly and effectively.

If your child has eczema, their skin will be dry, red and itchy. It may also have a cracked appearance. The rash will commonly show up in areas where the skin folds, like the inside of the elbows or the skin behind the knees. It is often accompanied by conditions like asthma and allergies.

Eczema is not easy to treat, but it can be soothed with lukewarm baths, regular moisturizing treatments and topical corticosteroid creams.


Measles is fairly uncommon these days thanks to the widespread use of the MMR vaccine, but it can still flare up. It is highly contagious and can cause complications.

The main symptoms of measles include:

  • Initial cold-like symptoms
  • Spots in the mouth and throat
  • Light sensitivity and red eyes
  • A high fever
  • A spotty rash that starts behind the ears and spreads over the body

Because measles is a viral infection, it can’t be treated with antibiotics. It’s important to take your child to the doctor if you suspect that they may have measles. Giving your child an age-appropriate dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen can help reduce fever and pain, and offering water regularly will help to prevent dehydration.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

This illness can be brought on by several different viral strains. It primarily causes a fever and blisters on the hands, feet and in the mouth. Hand, Foot and Mouth is an infectious illness, so it’s important that your child stays away from other children until their blisters have completely cleared up. You can also offer plenty of water to avoid dehydration.


Many children catch chickenpox, an illness that is extremely uncomfortable but not usually dangerous. You may notice some flu-like symptoms and a slight fever before the rash appears. The rash will be widespread, itchy and inflamed, and the symptoms tend to be worse as the child gets older. Once your child has contracted chickenpox, they are likely to have immunity for the rest of their lives.

There are very few medications to effectively treat chickenpox. Calamine lotion and antihistamines can help soothe the itchy rash, and paracetamol will bring down a fever if one is present. Antibiotics are only prescribed if the spots become infected- try to encourage your child not to scratch the rash to avoid the possibility of infection.

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