Lice. Ringworm. Pinworm. Scabies. These are four of the grossest childhood illnesses that you’ll encounter. In fact, the names of them alone could be enough to make your stomach turn. But when you see the very graphic conditions up close, you’ll likely end up feeling even worse. And while they sound like these would occur from a lack of proper hygiene, actually they’re easy to get despite your best efforts at cleanliness. Just keep in mind that despite all of the “yuckiness,” all of four of these conditions are very treatable and won’t leave any ill effects. Review the list below to find out exactly what to expect.

1. Lice Aren’t Nice

When it comes to children’s illnesses, lice rates somewhere on the more disgusting end of the scale and it certainly isn’t all in your child’s head. In fact, these tiny reddish brown bugs, which can nest in your child’s hair and cause extreme itchiness there, can easily spread to combs, bedding, towels and even stuffed animals, making it very contagious for you and the rest of your family. To get rid of lice, a strong anti-lice shampoo is needed, along with a special comb that can remove any tiny lice eggs that are left behind in your child’s hair. You’ll also need to do a thorough cleaning of your home environment. Be sure to wash the sheets, towels and all clothing in very hot water, and repeat this step every day for a full week to kill anything that lingers. Finally, anything you can’t clean, such as toys, should be stored in plastic bags for three weeks.

2. Take the Itch Out of Ringworm

If your child has a very itchy raised red rash that makes you grimace, it could be caused by ringworm, which is one of those children’s illnesses you wish you could resist. While it looks gross, though, you may be relieved to know it doesn’t actually involve a worm. It’s actually a type of fungus that’s spread through damp towels, bathing suits, gym mats and in locker rooms. Often it appears as a red ring, but it could also look like scaly patches. An antifungal cream you buy in a drug store will typically clear it up, but for a very resistant case, you may need a prescription treatment.

3. Pinworms Can Make You Squirm

When it comes to worms, pinworms are real ones that bury themselves in the deepest crevices of your child’s body (and perhaps also yours). In the grand scheme of children’s illnesses, most parents would agree that this one ranks super high on the gross factor scale. Consider the fact that these thin, half-inch worms get into the intestines. And if that’s not horrifying enough, they come out to lay eggs in the area around your child’s backside, where they cause a nightly itch.  Worse, when your child scratches this area, the eggs can get in his nails and be transferred to other surfaces throughout your home. To rid your child and your home of ringworm, your child will need to take an anti-parasitic drug, while you’ll need to do daily laundry of sheets and clothing every day for close to a month to be sure all of the worms are completely gone.

4. Get the Scoop on Scabies

If you think spiders are creepy, than the thought of scabies will make your skin crawl. These tiny mites, which are called scabies and are related to the spider and tick family, can dig right into your child’s skin, especially in the hands, feet and waist. They look like scratches with tiny black dots, which are the actual bugs sticking out of the tunnels they created. These bugs cause a relentless itch and can be passed through your home on towels, sheets and clothing, so your entire family can quickly become infected. Once you all have scabies, you’ll need to be treated simultaneously or else the bugs will just continue to be passed back and forth. An antihistamine can help combat the discomfort of this especially gross example of children’s illnesses, while a prescription cream or lotion is needed to cure the condition. Hopefully it’s one you’ll only have to deal with once.


Keep Kids Healthy

Directors of Health Promotion and Education