Common Childhood Illnesses

Chicken Pox
A skin rash of multiple small red bumps that progress to thin-walled water blisters, then cloudy blisters or open sores, and finally dry brown crusts.  The sores or crusts are usually less than ¼ inch across.  The rash is on al body surfaces, but usually starts on the head and back.  Chicken pox is spread by direct contact with drainage from sores of an infected person, or indirect contact with items soiled with drainage, respiratory droplets, or airborne transmission.  Children can return to school when all scabs are crusted (usually one week).
A superficial infection of the skin caused by streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria.  It is more common in the summertime.  It begins as small red bumps which rapidly change to cloudy blisters, then pimples and finally sores.  Impetigo is spread by direct contact.  Children may return to school twenty-four hours after treatment.
Common Cold
Characterized by sore throat, watery discharge from nose and eyes, sneezing, chilliness, and generalized discomfort.  Common colds are spread by direct contact with infected people, and/or indirect contact with items freshly soiled with nose and throat discharge of infected people.  Children should be excluded from school if running a fever.
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
Redness, burning, itching of eye sclera (white part of the eye), watery or purulent drainage, and matted eyelids.  Transmitted by direct contact.  Exclude child until drainage/discharge ceases, or at least 24 hours of antibiotic treatment is completed.
Pediculosis (Head Lice)
Itching, irritation of the scalp, white to yellow-brown nits (eggs) attached to hair, approximately ¼ inch from the scalp, especially at nape of neck, crown of head, and above the ears.  Spread by direct contact with infested person, or indirect contact with combs, clothing, etc., of infested person.  Exclude until treated. A “nit-free” policy aids in reducing reinfestations.
Ringworm (Tinea)
A flat, inflamed ring-like rash that may itch or burn.  Spread by direct contact with infected person or animal, and contagious while lesions are present.  Exclude from school, and contact sports, until 24 hours of appropriate treatment is completed.
Intense itching, especially at night.  Burrows under the skin resemble fine, wavy lines that are often found in space between fingers, on inside of wrist, at elbows, armpits, and belt line.  May have raised, fluid-filled blisters.  Spread by direct skin-to-sin contact with an infested person (rash or itching need not be present for transmission to occur).  Exclude until student and all household contacts are treated once.  Symptoms generally do not resolve immediately after treatment, but should not worsen.  Second treatment is usually required in 7-10 days.
Anal itching, with disturbed sleep, irritability, and localized irritation due to scratching.  Spread by direct contact of contaminated fingers to mouth, and indirect contact by freshly contaminated clothing or bedding.  Exclude until adequately treated.
Characterized by fever, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, fatigue, and occasionally abdominal pain.  Spread by direct contact with saliva of infected person (“the kissing disease”).  Infected person does not need to be excluded from school under normal circumstances, and may be in school while feeling well.
Meningitis (Bacterial)
Characterized by sudden onset of fever, intense headache, nausea and vomiting.  A rash is present with meningococcal meningitis.  Behavioral changes, irritability, and sluggishness often occur.  Spread by direct contact with nose or throat discharge of infected person or asymptomatic carrier.  Exclude while febrile and until at least 24 hours of antibiotic therapy has been completed.
Fifth Disease
Characterized by five symptoms:  (1) Bright red rash of both cheeks for 1 to 3 days, i.e., a “slapped cheek” appearance; (2) Pink “lacelike” (or “netlike”) rash of extremities; (3) “Lacy” rash mainly on thighs and upper arms; (4) “Lacy” rash that comes and goes several times over 1 to 3 weeks; (5) Minimal or no fever.  Generally clears in one week, but recurs if person gets warm, upset, etc., for up to one month.  Transmitted by direct or indirect contact with respiratory secretions.  School exclusion is not necessary once diagnosis is known, unless the child is febrile or uncomfortable.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (Coxsackie virus)
A raised rash, particularly on the palms of hands, soles of feet, and area surrounding the mouth.  Progresses to blisters, then scabs.  This virus can also cause sores inside the mouth, which makes swallowing painful.  Spread by direct contact with infected person’s respiratory secretions, or indirect contact with discharge from infected person’s secretions.
Scarlet Fever/Strep Throat
Fever, red throat with pus spots, tender and swollen glands.  Person with scarlet fever has all of these symptoms, plus rash on skin and inside of mouth, “strawberry tongue.”  High fever and nausea often occur.  Spread by direct contact with secretions of infected person or carrier.  Exclude until 24 hours of appropriate antibiotic treatment.