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Common Signs of Common School Ailments

Strep Throat

Caused by a type of Streptococcal bacteria, strep throat is a fairly common throat infection in children. It is most often reported in children between the ages of 5 and 15.
 
Possible signs may include:
 
  • A very sore throat that begins suddenly
  • Tender and swollen lymph glands in the neck
  • Swollen tonsils -- there may also be white patches of pus on the tonsils or in the throat
  • Fever above 101ºF (38.3ºC)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite.
 
This contagious infection is spread through contact with infected mucus, nasal discharge, or saliva. A diagnosis is made using a throat swab, which takes a sample of fluids from the back of the throat. 
 
Treatment usually consists of antibiotics, which can help decrease the severity and length of symptoms and may help prevent serious complications (such as heart or kidney problems) from untreated strep throat.
 

Swimmer's Itch

This skin rash is caused by an allergic reaction when parasites burrow into the skin while a person is swimming in contaminated water. The larvae of the parasites are released from snails that live in the water. After the parasites are released into the water, they swim around until they find an appropriate host, such as geese, beavers, ducks, etc. However, if a person is swimming in the water, the parasite may burrow into his or her skin. This causes an allergic reaction and a rash.
 
Signs of swimmer's itch include:
 
  • Small reddish pimples
  • Small blisters
  • Tingling, itching, or burning of the skin (itching may be severe).
 
The itching may last up to a week, but will gradually subside. Children are usually more likely to have swimmer's itch because:
 
  • Their skin is more sensitive than adults'
  • They usually swim in shallow water
  • They are not as likely to towel dry completely when they come out of the water.
 
Swimmer's itch is not contagious; it is only spread by swimming or being in water that's contaminated by certain parasites.
 
Medical treatment is not usually necessary for this rash. If your child gets swimmer's rash, you can:
 
  • Apply a cool compress to the area affected
  • Use a corticosteroid cream sparingly
  • Bathe the child in Epsom salts or baking soda
  • Soak your child in oatmeal baths
  • Use an anti-itch lotion
  • Apply a paste that's made of baking soda and water.
 
Although it may be difficult, try to watch your child and stop him or her from scratching the affected area. Scratching may lead to skin damage and possibly an infection.
 
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