Don't Kiss Off Strep Throat
Strep throat is an especially painful form of a sore throat, caused by a highly contagious form of bacteria. Strep throat infections are most common between the ages of 5 and 18. Although strep throat is most frequent between late fall and early spring, your teen can get it at any time of year.
What strep throat feels like: Strep throat feels like a really bad sore throat. Your teen may notice that her tonsils are inflamed. She may also see yellow or white patches at the back of her throat. Strep often causes a fever.
What to do: If you think your teen may have strep, call your doctor. Strep throat needs to be treated with antibiotics. Otherwise, it can lead to serious problems. Gargling with salt water or sucking on throat lozenges will help ease the pain. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen will reduce a fever.
What to expect: With antibiotic treatment, strep throat can last a week or two. Untreated, strep throat can lead to more serious infections such as rheumatic fever or kidney disease. That's why it's so important to see your doctor if your teen has a severe sore throat.
Other Infections: Athlete's Foot and Jock Itch
Your teen won't catch athlete's foot by kissing someone. But he can get this common infection by walking barefoot in locker rooms or around swimming pools or sharing shoes with someone who has it. Both athlete's foot and jock itch are caused by a fungus that thrives in damp places.
What they feel like: Athlete's foot causes itchy, cracking sores between the toes and sometimes on the soles of the feet. Jock itch causes similar itchy, cracking sores in the groin. The sores may weep and smell nasty. Athlete's foot can also cause redness on the bottom and sides of the foot. This form is called moccasin athlete's foot.
What to do: Use an over-the-counter antifungal cream, spray, or powder to get rid of athlete's foot or jock itch. If that's not enough to get rid of the symptoms, talk to your doctor about prescription-strength medication. To prevent getting athlete's foot or jock itch again, tell your teen wash and carefully dry his feet and groin area after showering. Change socks and underwear every day. Alternate wearing different pairs of shoes to allow the insides to fully dry out. Dust the insides of socks and shoes with medicated foot powder.
What to expect: Your teen's symptoms are likely to get better within a week or two. With careful hygiene, he can avoid getting athlete's foot or jock itch again.