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Playground illnesses: Spot the symptoms

Sun 27 Feb 2011 22:42


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Many illnesses can be easily spread by contact – i.e. touching hair, holding hands – which can present a problem for our little ones at this time of the year. Playing at the park or at school, children are particularly susceptible to contagious sickness.

Speaking to The Hour, health expert Dr Debbie Wake highlighted some of the playground illnesses to keep an eye on and how to treat them.

One of the biggest problems for our schools and colleges is an outbreak of head-lice.

These pesky little creatures can spread like wild-far and can often cause un-comfort and embarrassment for your child.

The common stigmas that lice will only live in excessively clean or dirty hair is false; they will take any kind of hair. Fortunately there are a number of treatments and products that are becoming increasingly effective in the battle against nits and headlice.

Special anti-lice shampoos and gels are the most popular method and can have your unwelcome guests gone in no time. Although, as Dr Debbie explains, these treatments will have little success in removing the eggs that the lice have left behind.

“Head-lice are around all the time, “said Dr Debbie. “As soon as one kid has got it, it just spreads.

“It’s important to make clear that the ‘nits’ are eggs. Little clear ball things.

“You can use a fine thoothed comb to get rid of these, and you can pick them up almost everywhere these days. Often good if there is conditioner in your hair and it should be used every night for around a week.

Another less well-documented illness that is easily spread amongst children is a problem called slap-cheek. This virus starts off like a normal cold – sniffly nose, cough, sore throat – but will eventually develop into a hot rash on the cheeks that can leave children feeling sick.

“The rash can sometimes develop on arm and legs. It doesn’t normally exclude kids from school and your GP’s advice should be sought on how to solve the problem.”

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