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Friday, June 6, 2014

Common Ailments in Children

Common Ailments in Children

What to Do About: Ringworm, Pinkeye, or Lice

Three of the most common childhood conditions are ringworm, conjunctivitis (pink eye), and lice. Here is some basic information regarding all three including how to identify them and how to treat them.

Ringworm is very common in children, but adults can get it too. It often appears like a round pink patch, or rough, scaly skin in the affected area. The patch will slowly increase in size, and may be accompanied by minor itching.  Ringworm is caused by a fungus called tinea that grows very much like a mushroom. It is easily spread from person to person by sharing or coming into direct contact with items such as combs or soiled clothing, shower floors and surfaces surrounding a swimming pool. Ringworm can also be contracted from cats, a common carrier.

The tinea fungus thrives in warm, moist areas and commonly affects the feet and toes, groin area, scalp, and waistline – any part or fold of the body that stays damp from sweat or swimming. For minor cases, keep the skin clean and dry. You can apply over the counter fungal creams such as Lotrimin, Lamisil or Micatin. In severe cases, or cases on your child’s scalp or eyebrows, be sure to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. It may be necessary to obtain prescriptions for antibiotics and/or specialty creams. Ringworm usually disappears in four weeks.

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is very common and very easily spread from person to person. It is caused by viruses, bacteria, shampoo, dirt, or pool chlorine, and allergens like pollen and dust. It isn’t serious unless the patient is a newborn. Infants must receive immediate medical attention to preserve baby’s vision.

Conjunctivitis causes itchy, runny, burning eyes, blurred vision, and lots of mucous or discharge. The whites of the eyes turn pink from the irritation. Call your pediatrician so that we can help you to evaluate if an appointment is necessary, or if prescription eye drops are needed.

Lice is probably the most annoying, and least dangerous of all childhood afflictions. Lice occurs in girls more often than boys aged 3-12 due to the sharing of combs, brushes, hair bows and barrettes, or from trying on hats in the department store. A nit looks like tiny light-colored bumps that are stuck to the shaft of the hair near the scalp, or adult lice looks like a white, crab-shaped bug not much bigger than a flake of dandruff. Adult lice go about crawling and feeding on the scalp.

We recommend immediately trying an over the counter brand of shampoo and scalp treatments found at your local pharmacy. There are also sprays for treating furniture. High heat and lack of oxygen is the bane of lice, so you can place bed linens, spreads, and pillows in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes, longer if there is no danger of ruining the items. Follow up with laundering your bedding as usual. You can also place bedding in a sealed bag (think Space Bag) and vacuum out the air. Leave the items for at least two weeks to insure the demise of every louse.  If over the counter options do not work by ridding your child’s scalp of the lice, please call our office and we can help you determine whether a prescription treatment is needed.

Anytime you have medical questions or concerns, you should contact your Greensboro pediatrician at Northwest Pediatrics.

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