Classic infectious childhood diseases

Classic infectious childhood diseases

Maggie Reyes


Due to their developing immune systems, children are especially susceptible to exanthematous infections. This includes measles, chicken pox, rubella (German measles) and other bacterial or viral infections causing rashes, skin eruptions and fever. Knowing what to expect and how to care for your child during these outbreaks can help reduce your stress.

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This infection caused by Paramyxoviridae virus. It’s transmitted through body fluids, such as contagious person sneezing and sending droplets of saliva on a person or nearby surface. Although it can occur in adults, this disease is most prevalent in children. Due to its incubation period of 4-12 days, the first symptoms may appear at first contact.



A widespread skin rash is the classic sign of measles. It can also be accompanied by symptoms such as:



There is no specific treatment to rid measles. The most important things to do to is to lessen the symptoms:

  • relieve fever and muscle aches with acetaminophen
  • rest to let the body recuperate and stay strong
  • rehydrating with plenty of fluids
  • humidifier to ease a cough and sore throat
  • vitamin A, D and C supplements to help boost the immune system

Doctors recommend the MMR vaccine for children as a preventive caution.



This infectious disease is caused by the varicella-zoster (VZV) virus. It’s mostly seen in children between1-9 years old, although adults can also be affected.  Like measles, chickenpox can be transmitted through droplets of saliva or contact with contaminated objects. Chickenpox can sometimes flare up again in adulthood as shingles.



The most common symptom is an itchy rash but other symptoms include:

  • fever
  • blisters
  • loss of appetite
  • tiredness


While there is no specific treatment for chickenpox, there are ways to help relieve the symptoms and prevent skin infections:

  • calamine lotion and colloidal oatmeal baths to relieve itching
  • trimming fingernails trimmed short can help prevent skin infections caused by scratching blisters
  • acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and pain. NOTE: Avoid aspirin! Chickenpox and aspiring have been associated with Reye’s syndrome, a severe disease that affects the liver and brain.
  • Acyclovir can be given to attack the virus, but this medication has its limit in children.

There is a vaccination for chickenpox that can prevent infection. However, some people can still get the disease, usually in a milder version with fewer blisters and lower or no fever.



Also known as German measles or three-day measles, this infection is caused by the Rubella virus. It is an airborne disease passed on with contact of an infected person. Once inside the body, it attacks the lymph nodes and quickly spreads. It’s a particularly dangerous infection for pregnant women because of its ability to cross the placenta. In 20% of causes, Rubella can cause the death of the fetus. It’s critical to tell friends, family, and co-workers as well as your child’s school about the outbreak and to avoid people with deficient or suppressed immune systems. Rubella usually lasts between two to three weeks and once affected a child has lifelong immunity.



The main symptoms of rubella are rash all over the body often accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • a low-grade fever
  • mild pink eye or conjunctivitis
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • headache
  • runny nose
  • general discomfort
  • swollen and enlarged lymph nodes
  • ear infection (otitis)
  • loss of appetite



Since no treatment will shorten the course and symptoms are considered mild, there isn’t any treatment prescribed. Doctors recommend bed rest as necessary and acetaminophen to relieve discomfort from fever and aches.



Since symptoms are the only signs of these diseases, you may notice other changes in your child prior to the outbreak such as behavioral changes. Keep all vaccines up to date. Vitamins and supplements can help strengthen your child’s immune system and aid in recovery. Do not medicate your child without consulting your doctor first.

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