5 illnesses that can affect children now they are back to school

The six weeks of summer holiday’s is now coming to end and I am very much looking forward to getting back into the school routine.

There is one downside to being back at school – the spread of childhood illnesses begins again.

As an early years practitioner, it is easy to see these illnesses coming and going in waves and there is a lot of false information out there, from hosting Chicken Pox parties to confusion about when you can or can’t send your children to school .

This article from Medical Tracker about myths and misconceptions of school illnesses helps debunk some of myths out there.

Chicken Pox

Chicken Pox is a common illness that mainly affects children and causes an itchy, spotty rash with the symptoms starting one to three weeks after becoming infected.

Chicken Pox

The main symptom is a rash that develops in three stages:

  • spots – red raised spots develop on the face or chest before spreading to other parts of the body
  • blisters – over the next few hours or the following day, very itchy fluid-filled blisters develop on top of the spots
  • scabs and crusts – after a further few days, the blisters dry out and scab over to form a crust; the crusts then gradually fall off by themselves over the next week or two

All mine have had chickenpox and the best treatment I have found for it is PoxClin, with virasoothe coming a close second. I would also recommend adding bicarbonate of soda to a warm bath as this can help with the itching. When treating chickenpox it is important that parents know not to use Ibuprofen as it has been linked to developing secondary skin infections, however, Calpol is fine to use.

Chickenpox is contagious until all the blisters have scabbed over, which usually happens about five or six days after the rash, so children should be kept off school and nursery until then.

Group A strep 

Group A Strep (or Strep A) spent a lot of time in the news last year as there was an increase in the number of cases. It is a common bacterium that lots of us carry it in our throats and on our skin and it doesn’t always result in illness, however, when it does, illnesses can include a sore throat, cold symptoms, scarlet fever, impetigo, cellulitis and pharyngitis.

If you or your child has a strep A infection, you should stay away from nursery, school or work for 24 hours after you start taking antibiotics. This will help stop the infection from spreading to other people.


Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that causes sores and blotchy rashes on the skin. Whilst these can be itchy and painful, most cases of impetigo aren’t serious and will resolve themselves in seven to 10 days. 

Impetigo is very contagious, so you should be careful if you come in contact with someone who it and if your child has it, they should stay home from school or nursery until sores have dried up, blistered or crusted over.


Tonsillitis is an infection on your tonsils (at the back of your throat). This is common in children and can be very uncomfortable, with symptoms including but not limited to a sore throat, trouble swallowing, a high temperature, and increased tiredness. Tonsillitis is rarely serious, and tends to clear up in three to four days without the need for antibiotics.  

There is no need to keep your child off school, however, if they have a temperature they may be more comfortable at home until they start feeling better.


The most common types of meningococcal disease are meningitis and septicaemia. Meningitis can be very serious at any age, and survivors can be left with physical disabilities, including scarring or loss of limbs. Long-term impacts of infection can also include hearing impairment and mental or motor skill impairment.

Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes around the brain and spine, symptoms include stiffness, a high temperature, listlessness and a rash that is still visible beneath a glass when you apply pressure. At the first sign of a rash, along with a raised temperature, it is recommended to perform the glass test, and if the rash doesn’t fade under pressure, it can be a sign of meningococcal septicaemia and you should seek medical treatment straight away.

4 ways to ward off childhood illnesses

Good hygiene habits are essential for a child’s health and well-being. Not only will they help protect your child from illness, but they will also instil good personal hygiene practices that will last a lifetime.

  1. Wash your hands – wash your hands after using the toilet, blowing your nose and before you eat.
  2. Cough into your elbow – teaching children to cough into the crook of their elbow prevents the germs going onto their hands and therefore they cannot spread as easily to other children.
  3. Use tissues to blow their nose – have a box of tissues available in their room or give them their own pack of pocket tissues and encourage them to wipe / blow their nose rather than smearing is along their sleeve.
  4. Keep children at home whilst they’re contagious to prevent spreading their illness

Disclaimer: Post written in collaboration with Medical Tracker.

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