Keeping Kids Healthy

Kids are taught to share their toys and snacks. Unfortunately, they also share things you’d rather have them keep to themselves — germs. Getting sick is part of growing up, but there are ways to prevent infection and illness. “The best protection is immunization against vaccine-preventable illnesses, good old hand washing, and covering coughs and sneezes,” says Lisa M. Asta, MD, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California-San Francisco, who practices in Walnut Creek, Calif.


Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is considered a mild viral infection that generally affects kids younger than 10. Symptoms are painful mouth sores, fever, and sometimes a rash — typically on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. There is no vaccine and nearly all kids are better in a week to 10 days. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is sometimes confused with hoof and mouth disease, which strikes livestock. However, they are not related.


Head Lice

Once these tiny bugs make a home on your child’s scalp, they cause itchy heads and can be difficult to get rid of, says Parker, who recommends asking your doctor about medication. Lice and nits (eggs) can be removed with a fine-toothed comb. To avoid getting lice, tell your child to avoid head-to-head contact with other kids and not to share personal items, such as combs, hats, or hair ribbons.


Roseola Virus

Also known as sixth disease, roseola is a type of contagious herpes virus that affects children 6 months to 2 years old. The first sign of roseola is often a mild upper respiratory infection, followed by a rapid-onset high fever (over 103 degrees farheinheit) and a pinkish-red flat or raised rash that appears when the fever breaks. The rash typically spreads from the trunk of the body to the neck, face, arms, and legs. There is no vaccine for roseola; yet a bout in childhood is thought to provide lasting immunity into adulthood.