With ‘Back-to-School’ season comes ‘Back-to-School’ bacteria. If you’re a parent, you’re probably very familiar with how easily kids can get sick. Whether it’s forgetting to wash their hands or coming into close contact with other kids at school, there are numerous ways your child can contract a sickness. Here are some common school-age illnesses you should know:

Strep Throat

This one is one of the most common school-age illnesses, and perhaps one you remember experiencing. Usually affecting those five to fifteen years of age, strep throat is spread through an infected person’s saliva or nasal mucus, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe. A sore throat, fever, nausea, and malaise are very common symptoms, and it’s treated with antibiotics.

Pediatrician checking young girl’s mouth for strep throat one of many common school-age illnesses.

Scarlet Fever

Common for children within five to twelve years old, scarlet fever is a bacterial disease that can develop in those with strep throat. Usually, the disease begins with a rash that feels like sandpaper on the neck and chest before spreading to the entire body. Other symptoms include vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, chills, and pharyngitis. An infamous symptom also connected to scarlet fever is ‘strawberry tongue,’ which appears a white-looking coat on the tongue with bumps. If your child is experiencing scarlet fever, it should definitely be treated by a doctor so as not to put your child at risk of developing rheumatic fever.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Also known as pink eye, bacterial conjunctivitis is also in the category of common school-age illnesses, and it is very contagious. Noticeable symptoms include a pink or red color around one eye, and a mucus-like liquid coming out of the eye. A topical antimicrobial treatment helps the illness go away faster, but the illness can spread easily in any particular household or school. Bacterial conjunctivitis commonly occurs with a respiratory tract infection and otitis media as well.

Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease (HFMD)

While this viral illness can also occur in adults, it’s most common in children younger than five years old. Symptoms include fever, blister-like sores on the mouth and feet, and a skin rash. HFMD commonly spreads through infected objects or surfaces, direct contact, or even through the air. The viral illness is mainly found in the affected person’s saliva, feces, nasal mucus, fluid found in blisters, or sputum. While there is no official treatment or cure, you can give your child oral mouthwashes or sprays recommended by your doctor.


A severe and contagious respiratory disease, measles is spread through coughing, sneezing, or direct contact with someone who’s affected. Symptoms of measles are having a high fever, conjunctivitis, coughing, and coryza. Koplik spots can also show up in the mouth, and the illness is commonly treated with oral vitamin A supplements and supportive care. The nature of this highly contagious disease is life-threatening if not treated properly, which is why it’s so important to get your child vaccinated for common school-age illnesses like this one.

Young boy suffering from measles, a preventable school-age illness.

Fifth Disease

The most common symptom of fifth disease is a facial rash, but the illness can also be accompanied by rhinorrhea, fever, and headache. Although this disease can be mild in nature, it is potentially life-threatening to a fetus if a pregnant woman contracts the disease, so definitely be cautious of this.


A highly contagious bacterial infection, impetigo is the most common skin infection in children and is identified through sores around the mouth and nose. Treatment for this infection includes supportive care, topical or oral antibiotics, and caring for the sores.


Bacterial meningitis, which can be prevented with three types of vaccines, is accompanied by a fever or headache and possibly photophobia, nausea, and vomiting. If left untreated, bacterial meningitis can be fatal, so treat it as an emergency in your child. Treatment is usually antibiotics.

Close-up shot of a description of meningitis and its very effective vaccine.

Tinea Capitis

The medical name for ringworm, this illness is essentially a fungal infection of the scalp that most often affects children. The areas with ringworm are usually bald, red, scaly, or inflamed, and can be accompanied by a low-grade fever or sores filled with pus. Tinea capitis is very contagious and spreads through skin-to-skin contact, objects that a person with ringworm uses, or even pets. The most effective medicine for a child with ringworm is usually oral medications.


Extremely common and constantly changing, influenza is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets. Signs of the flu include everything from coughing to headaches to a fever, as well as pharyngitis, malaise, vomiting, and diarrhea. The most effective form of treatment for influenza is receiving the vaccine every year.

If your child is suffering from any of these common school-age illnesses, come visit Fox Medical Centers so we can provide a proper diagnosis and help you and your child decide on the right treatment. Check out all of the locations we have to offer and make an appointment right on our website!

Leave a Reply