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Pinkeye: Contagious

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an irritation of the eye and lining of the eyelid. Symptoms may include itching, burning, redness, increased tearing or discharge, sensitivity to light, and crusting on the lids or lashes. 

How it spreads. Viruses, bacteria, allergens, or irritants can cause pinkeye. When a virus or bacteria is the cause, children can catch it easily by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their eyes.

Prevention. To protect your children and yourself, wash hands frequently with soap and warm water. When soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Do not allow children to share towels, pillows, washcloths, or other items with someone who is infected. If you or someone else in your home has pinkeye, wash pillowcases, sheets, washcloths, and towels in hot water and detergent to avoid spreading it.

Treatment. Mild conjunctivitis often gets better on its own. Artificial tears and cold packs can help relieve dryness and inflammation. If your child has eye pain, fever, vision problems, headache or intense redness, or she is not better within a couple of days, call her doctor. She may need prescription medication.

Stomach Flu: Contagious

"Stomach flu" isn't actually the flu (influenza) but gastroenteritis, an upset stomach usually caused by a virus. Symptoms may include cramps, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. They can also include a rash. They usually improve within a few days.

How it spreads. Your child can get gastroenteritis through close contact with someone who has it or by eating food that's been prepared or touched by someone who has it.

Prevention. Try to keep your child away from people who have the stomach flu. Teach him to wash his hands frequently, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom. Teach your child to avoid sharing foods and utensils with other kids. Teach him not to put his fingers in his mouth.

Treatment. There is no specific treatment for stomach flu. Give your child popsicles and extra fluids to make sure he stays well hydrated. He should also rest. Avoid spicy foods and fried foods. Give small amounts of bland foods like gelatin, toast, crackers, rice, or bananas at first. You may even consider adding a probiotic to increase the healthy and normal bacteria in his gut. Then go back to his regular diet, but feed him small amounts frequently. If you think your child is not drinking enough or voiding enough (a child 1 or older needs to void at least once every four hours) call your doctor. If your little one is less than 1 and has vomiting or diarrhea, consult your doctor.

Fifth Disease ("Slapped Cheek"): Contagious

This viral illness usually affects school-age children, most commonly in winter and spring. It usually begins with low-grade fever, headache, and stuffy or runny nose. But the primary symptom is a bright red rash that starts on the cheeks -- giving the appearance of slapped cheeks -- and can progress to the trunk, arms, and legs.

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