Home > Kids > Children's General Health > Childhood Illnesses > Contagious Childhood Illnesses > Common Contagious Diseases Among Preschoolers

Common Contagious Diseases Among Preschoolers

Preschoolers who attend day care pass germs around as if they were crayons. Certain conditions are therefore more common among children in day care. Although most of the following conditions might be avoided through good hygienic practices, don't be surprised if your child brings one of these home from day care along with his valentines and other school projects:

  • Head Lice (Nits) These hard-to-see parasites attach pale gray or white oval eggs (called nits) to the hair, especially at the base of the scalp. They may make your preschooler's head itchy, especially during hot weather. Contracting head lice is not a sign of poor hygiene: Any self-respecting louse actually prefers clean hair to dirty hair.
    To reduce the risk of contracting head lice, discourage your child from sharing hats, combs, hair bands, barrettes, and hair ribbons with other children.
    If your preschooler comes home with head lice, call your pediatrician. He or she will probably recommend a shampoo that should quickly take care of the problem. (You should probably treat every member of the household.) After shampooing, comb the hair out with a fine-toothed comb to remove the dead eggs. (Rinsing the hair with diluted vinegar may make it easier to get the nits out.) You also should use the shampoo to wash all combs, hairbrushes, hats, and other headwear. Because the treatment is so effective, your child may return to day care immediately after beginning the prescription.
  • Ringworm A highly contagious and itchy fungal infection, ringworm produces scaly, red or gray patches on the skin or small bald areas on the scalp. The center of the round or oval patch may clear, but the outside ring will remain scaly (hence the name).
    If your child contracts ringworm, call your pediatrician. If the ringworm is in your child's scalp, your doctor will prescribe an oral medication. Otherwise, he or she will probably prescribe an antifungal cream. Because ringworm is highly contagious and spread through direct contact, have your child wash his hands with an antibacterial soap whenever he touches the area (even to put on his medication). If you apply the medication for him, wash your hands immediately afterward, too.
  • Pinworms These worms lay eggs around the anus. The eggs can cause irritation (an itching or tickling sensation) around the anus, especially at night. You might notice the little white worms in your preschooler's bowel movements. Pinworms pass from child to child. The worm eggs may be ingested by a child who eats with his hands after washing his hands poorly (or not at all). The eggs then hatch, producing larvae inside the intestines.
    If your child has pinworms, your whole family may need to take medication prescribed by your pediatrician. Wash often and thoroughly with an antibacterial soap. Have your child wear underwear when in bed to discourage scratching, and keep your child's fingernails short.

More on: Preschool

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Preschooler and Toddler, Too © 1997 by Keith M. Boyd, M.D., and Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks