7 most common back to school bugs and how to spot them (photos)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Close quarters in new classrooms and sharing toys and supplies unfortunately means sharing germs come back to school time. Illnesses spread quickly when the school bells ring again every fall. Most of the more common viruses are preventable.

Here are the most common illnesses your kids will come home with, and associated symptoms. We researched their treatment and are getting answers for parents about the best way to spot, and treat those pesky back to school bugs.


Colds are the most common and most contagious illness school aged children will pick up. But most are mild and won't prevent kids from attending school. Doctors do recommend frequent hand washing and sneezing in elbows instead of hands to prevent the sickness from spreading. Children with fevers higher than 100 should stay home until they're fever free from at least 24 hours, according to doctor recommendations.

Impetigo, or School Sores

It's a bacterial infection that lives on the skin. It gets into the deeper layers of skin through cuts and sores causing blisters. Weeping blisters make the infection highly contagious. According to KidspotHealth, Impetigo will clear on its own, but recovery is sped up by antibiotics. To help your kids avoid impetigo, make sure they wash hands regularly, keep broken skin, eczema and rashes covered and make sure they don't pick at any scabs. If you've already got it in the house, experts recommend each person in the house use their own towels, keep fingernails short, and wash linens of the effected person separately. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should keep your child home from school or day care until he or she is no longer contagious — usually 24 hours after you begin antibiotic treatment.

Fifth disease, or Slap Cheek Syndrome

It is a common classroom virus that comes with a fever, joint pain and characteristic symptoms of a bright red rash in a lacey pattern on their face that looks like somebody slapped them. You can also see the pattern on their trunk.
The child may not feel sick but the virus is most contagious several days before the rash appears.


They can be easily treated with over-the-counter medication, but are uncomfortable because of itching around the anus. Parasitic intestinal worms are spread through poor hygiene, so prevent children from getting them by washing hands regularly, keeping fingernails short and avoiding eating food that's fallen on the ground. If worms have already hit your house, prevent further spreading of them by vacuuming regularly, discouraging thumb-sucking and nail biting, and washing the effected child's bedding separately in hot water.

Head lice

It causes uncomfortable itching and can spread quickly in a school or child care center. You can reduce the likelihood that your child will get it by not sharing personal items like brushes, hats, or hair ties/bows and keeping long hair tied up. If lice is already in the family, prevent cross-contamination by following up on the initial treatments cycle, as one treatment generally isn't enough. Avoid sharing towels, pillows and hair brushes, and consider preventive treatments on family members not yet infected.

Hand, foot and mouth disease

It's is a viral infection that most often hits kids under 10 years old. According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms include fever, reduced appetite, sore throat, painful sores in the mouth (that begin as a flat red spot), and a rash of flat red spots that may blister on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and sometimes the knees, elbows, buttocks, and/or genital area. Those don't all appear at once. Some patients may not even show any symptoms, and yet still pass the virus on to others.

Parents can treat HFMD with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers. It's also important for people with HFMD to drink enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands to prevent the spread of it. Also avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who have HFMD, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis

It's an infection that can be caused by a virus or bacteria. It's easily spread and very common among young children. The best way to avoid it is frequent hand washing. Keep kids with pink eye from rubbing their eyes, and clean infected eyes with cotton balls soaked in warm water.

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