Eruptive Diseases of Childhood

Eruptive Diseases of Childhood

  Autor NN Team Data: 19.03.2009

Eruptive Diseases of Childhood
The eruptive diseases of childhood are not sparing almost any child, so, if you notice a rash on your child skin, associated with fever, it's almost certain that you deal with one of the eruptive diseases of childhood, often called exanthemas: chickenpox, measles, rubella, erythema infectiosum. All these are caused by viral infections and are very contagious, being transmitted through air. If there is a child with skin rash in a community, this will be transmitted to a few others too. It's frequent for three quarters of a class with 20-25 children to get infected. 

Fortunately, the exanthemas are not dangerous, the resolve by themselves without complications and the child get over them easily, if he is healthy. Children with a weakened immunity may have more problems, and infants. However, they have to stay in quarantine not to infect the other children too. As the childhood diseases are viral, there is no treatment besides the symptomatic one. Therefore, the antibiotics are not helping at all, as they cannot kill the viruses. But, if the child bears the disease for 1-2 weeks, he will get immunity for life. 
If the disease is not dangerous at all, the complications might be. All the childhood diseases imply the risks of serious complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis, kidney diseases, bones, joints, skin superinfections. The most frequent are the skin infections produced by the crushing, tearing and scratching the blisters which are characteristic to exanthemas. 

The most noticeable symptom is the skin eruptions, manifested through reddish blisters, full of liquid, which evolves during the disease. But everything starts with cold-like symptoms: fever, sore throat, nasal congestion, muscles pains, fatigue, cough, sneezing. During the evolution of the disease, there might occur nausea, vomiting, dizziness. Regarding the treatment, there is not much to do. The disease must be allowed to follow the natural course, and will disappear in 1-2 weeks, as any other viral infection. Until then, in order to reduce the child's discomfort and pains, you may administer antipyretics and mild painkillers, the most appropriate being the ones based on acetaminophen. The best you can do is to ask for a doctor's advice or at least for the pharmacist's. Some doctors prescribe a complex of vitamins and minerals to reinforce the organism during the disease evolution. Besides this, the child must rest as much as possible, and must consume many liquids, associated with a rich in vitamins diet (fresh fruits and vegetables). It's possible for the child not to be able to eat everything, as the blisters in the throat will be painful. You must provide soft food for him (smoothies, puddings) which is easily swallowed. It's not bad to spoil him a little, with his favorite food as it's important to eat well during the evolution of the disease. The serious complications occur in underfed children. 
Warning! Do not administer antibiotics as they are not efficient against viruses. The doctor is the only one to prescribe antibiotics, if he notices a superinfection. Also, don't administer aspirin! This treatment may cause the Reye syndrome if administered to children with viral infections. 

The characteristic blisters appear all over the body, including the palms, feet, throat, in the genital area. It is important for them not to be crushed, as the child could get scars for a lifetime. Therefore, the nails must be cut short and the hands clean, to prevent the superinfections of the skin. Because the blisters are itchy, it is recommended to give gloves to the child, especially when he sleeps. Therefore, if he scratches himself during sleep, he won't crush the blisters. Also, we may try to reduce the itches using a menthol ointment or menthol talcum powder. 

Which are the eruptive childhood disease? 

The chickenpox (chicken pox). It is caused by varicella- zoster virus. It usually starts with vesicles with clean liquid. With time, the liquid becomes opaque, the blisters get dry and form a crust. You must let them heal until the crust falls down, not to cause scars. The incubation period last between 10 and 28 days, but most often is of 14 days. The child is infectious with 1-2 days before the first vesicles appear, and up to 5-6 days after the lesions have crusted over. After the disease is cured, the virus stays in the organism and might be reactivated at some point during the life, causing the disease known as Zoster. 

Rubella (German measles). It is caused by Rubella virus. The spots are pale pink, they first occur around the mouth, on the neck, and they spread throughout the body, to the limbs root, on the buttocks. They are associated with swollen glands at the neck and joints pains. The incubation period lasts between 11-21 days. The pregnant women must be protected! 

Measles (rubeola). It is caused by a paramyxovirus. The rash looks like small reddish stains on theface, then on the truck and limbs. The incubation period lasts for about 11 days.

Erythema infectiosum (the fifth disease). This is caused by parvovirus B19. The rash occurs as red spots on the cheeks (looks like being slapped), then it spreads to the trunk and limbs. Sometimes, the symptoms are very mild and might be unobserved or confused with a mild cold. The child is infectious at the first symptoms of the disease, similar to the cold ones. When the rash appears, the infection is not contagious anymore. 

Some of the childhood diseases may be prevented with vaccines nowadays. The MMR vaccine has been used for a long time now (measles, mumps, rubella), but some parents prefer for the children to get infected, in order to gain immunity for a lifetime. Each parent decides whether to vaccinate the child or to let him suffer for two weeks with each disease. But let's not forget that it's not only about the child's suffering but also about serious complications which are rare, but might occur even in healthy children. 

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