It’s that time of year again when students and teachers head back to school, college or university with a full academic year ahead. After a long break everyone is rested and ready to get back to work, however for many of them, new homework books isn’t the only thing they bring home. Children and teachers are about to be exposed to a number of viruses and illnesses at school and will probably bring home at least one.
In the first couple of weeks back, kids can be struck down with a number of illnesses which are easily spread between pupils and teachers. Here’s a few of the culprits to watch out for, and some general tips for staying well for the entire term.
Many tummy bugs, including norovirus, can spread like wildfire in the classroom. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea and can last for 24-48 hours. Sometimes catching these bugs is unavoidable, but increasing personal hygiene could do the trick. Always wash hands before eating. If a child does catch a tummy bug they should have at least 48 hours off school and stay hydrated.
Coughs and colds are very common in September and October in schools and universities, where it’s known as fresher’s flu. Your immune system will decide if you get struck with it, but again hand washing often could prevent it spreading.
When children are in close contact at school, head lice or ‘nits’ are easily spread. Keep an eye out for an itchy scalp, and if any eggs or lice are spotted then it must be treated as soon as possible.
This is a contagious skin infection which is caused by bacteria, usually common in nursery aged children. The main symptom is a rash, often on the face, which can become red and crusty. It is difficult to prevent a child becoming infected, but children should be kept away from others as this can be pretty contagious. It is always advisable to get a doctor to have a look and diagnose impetigo as there are some topical creams that can be applied which should improve things fairly quickly. Also don’t share bath towels or water with a person who is infected.
Outbreaks of measles can be dangerous, and the only way to protect against it is with a vaccination. Check whether your child or teenager has been vaccinated, as it’s never too late. There has been a rise in cases of measles at large gatherings and festivals this year, so all young people are being urged to have two shots of the MMR vaccine. If your child is heading to university this month, it is worth checking with your GP if they have had both shots.