Teething problems with spots

Every child has an illness with spots or blisters on the skin at some point. This may include chickenpox, fifth disease, sixth disease, scarlet fever, rubella, measles or meningococcus. As a parent, how do you recognize which disease your child has and what can you best do if your child has one of the diseases mentioned?

Spot diseases are contagious

Spot diseases are diseases in which the child develops spots or blisters on the skin. Children often feel unwell and/or have a fever before any spots appear. Then they may have already infected other children. It is therefore important to report this to the daycare center, playgroup or school as soon as you know which (spot) disease it is. Sometimes it takes one to two weeks for a child to become ill after infection.

If your child has already had the disease

If your child has already had a certain spot disease, he or she will build up resistance to this disease. Your child will then no longer develop this disease or in a milder form.

Vaccinations against rubella and measles

A large proportion of children have been vaccinated against rubella and measles (included in the BMR injection). As a result, the children have built up resistance to the disease. They do not get the disease or they get it in a milder form (for example, some children get a fever after a vaccination).

Chickenpox (varicella zoster virus)

Chickenpox mainly occurs in young children and sometimes also babies.

Course of the disease

Chickenpox starts with red spots that can appear on the face, ears, mouth, nose and genitals. The red spots turn into blisters after two days. After a few days, these blisters dry into scabs, which fall off on their own after about ten days.

What is the best thing to do?

The itching that often occurs with chickenpox can be very annoying. It is important to keep the nails short and clean. For babies it sometimes helps to put socks over their hands so that they do not scratch themselves due to itching (scarring).
In general, the disease is mild, but some children are groggy, have no appetite and have a mild fever or sore throat. The itching is often the worst. Sometimes talcum powder helps.

Immunity

If you had the disease before your first birthday, there is a chance that you will get it again. This is not the case after your first birthday. However, the virus remains present in everyone who has ever had chickenpox. Under certain circumstances, this virus can become active again in the form of shingles.

Incubation period

From 10 days to 3 weeks.

Fifth disease (Erythem infectiosum)

Fifth disease is caused by the parvovirus and mainly occurs in children between the ages of three and ten.

Course of the disease

The disease begins with a patchy red rash on the cheeks as if the child has been hit. From there, the spots spread to the arms, legs, buttocks and torso. Sometimes the rash can be quite itchy. The child may be hangry and have a mild fever, but this is not necessary. The spots will be gone after a week to ten days. Adults can suffer serious joint complaints.

What is the best thing to do?

Examine the disease and pass it on to the playgroup, daycare center or school that your child attends. They can then put up a letter to warn women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant if they have not been vaccinated or have had the disease themselves.

Immunity

Once you have had fifth disease you are protected for life and it will not come back.

Incubation period

Between 5 days to 2 weeks.

Pregnant women and fifth disease

For women who are pregnant and who have not yet had fifth disease, the disease can cause miscarriage in the first three months of pregnancy.

The sixth disease (Exanthema subitum or roseola infantum)

Occurs in children aged 6 months to 3 years.

Course of the disease

A hallmark of this disease is high fever. After two to five days the fever decreases and pink spots appear. First on the torso, then on the neck and sometimes on the arms. Sometimes children also get a throat infection, ear infection or suffer from swollen lymph nodes in the neck and throat. If all goes well, the sixth disease will go away on its own after a few days.

What is the best thing to do?

Basically relax. If your child has a fever of more than 40 degrees or if the fever persists, call the doctor.

Immunity

Once you have had the sixth disease you are protected for life and it will not come back.

Incubation period

Up to 15 days after infection.

Difference between fifth and sixth disease

The sixth disease always involves fever.

Scarlet fever (Scarlatina)

Mainly occurs in preschool age (the disease is rare under the age of three).

Course of the disease

The child may feel very ill and have difficulty swallowing. The fever can quickly rise to above 39 degrees.
After about two days, fine red specks appear. First on the chest, later in the armpits, groin and in the backs of knees and elbows. The entire face turns red, except the skin around the mouth and nose. The skin can feel like sandpaper. The child also develops a bumpy, dark red raspberry tongue. After about five days the symptoms disappear. Although almost everyone gets scarlet fever, some do not get sick from it.

What is the best thing to do?

Always consult your doctor if you think your child has scarlet fever. If necessary, he/she can prescribe antibiotics.

Immunity

You will get scarlet fever once, but the bacteria that causes scarlet fever can also cause other symptoms such as impetigo and erysipelas.

Incubation period

Scarlet fever is caused by group A streptococcus. Many people carry the bacteria without being ill, but they can infect others by talking, sneezing or coughing. The bacteria can also be transmitted via hands and objects. The disease manifests itself after 6 to 7 days after infection.

Rubella (Rubella)

Can occur at all ages.

Course of the disease

In 50% of patients, a rash appears that starts on the face and quickly spreads to the upper body. After a day or two, the rash also extends to the arms and legs. The rash is pinkish red. At first they are separate spots, which can later merge. Sometimes the child suffers from burning eyes. Older children and adults may be droopy, feverish and suffer from swollen lymph nodes behind the ear and in the neck a few days before the rash develops. Older girls and women can also experience problems with their joints. Complications are rare. However, there can be serious consequences for the unborn children of pregnant women who contract the disease. See the relevant paragraph about this.

What is the best thing to do?

Examine the disease and pass it on to the playgroup, daycare center or school that your child attends. They can then put up a letter to warn women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant if they have not been vaccinated or have had the disease themselves.

Immunity

If you have had rubella, you are protected against this disease for life. Sometimes there is a new infection. But this does not cause any symptoms of infection.

Incubation period

If symptoms of rubella occur, this is 14 to 21 days after infection.

Pregnant women and rubella

As a pregnant woman, it can be dangerous for the unborn child to get rubella. This can damage the unborn child. The earlier the infection occurs in pregnancy, the more serious the consequences can be (heart defects, bone defects, central nervous system disorders, etc.). The infection can also lead to miscarriage. The rubella vaccine has therefore been included in the national vaccination programme. Children receive this injection when they are 14 months old and in the year they turn 9 years old.

Measles (Morbilli)

Measles mainly occurs in toddlers and preschoolers. Children are vaccinated against measles via the MMR vaccination at 14 months and this vaccination is repeated in the year that the child turns 9 years old. If babies travel to a country where measles occurs, the MMR vaccination can be given to a child older than 6 months. If the child is not yet a year old, it must receive a booster shot at fourteen months. Vaccinations are not mandatory in the Netherlands.

Course of the disease

The disease starts with high fever, coughing, cold and red eyes. Soon white spots with a dot appear on the inside of the cheeks. Within a few days, a rash appears on the face, neck and throat. The rash slowly sinks to the lower body. First there are small and large spots that lie on the skin. Later these become evenly red.
Measles can cause serious complications, such as ear infections that leave the child permanently deaf or life-threatening pneumonia. Sometimes acute meningitis occurs with permanent brain damage and very occasionally there is a fatal outcome.

What should you do?

If a child has measles, there is no other option than to wait until the disease is over (sick out). In any case, always contact your doctor.

Immunity

If you have had measles, you are protected against the disease for life. Sometimes there is a new infection, but it does not cause any symptoms of infection.

Incubation period

The first symptoms of measles begin after about 8 to 14 days.

Meningococcal (Meningitis)

These bacteria can cause meningitis and/or blood poisoning (sepsis) and must be treated with antibiotics in the hospital. Meningitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria. Children are vaccinated against type C meningococcus at the age of fourteen months. This vaccination prevents half of the cases of meningococcal disease.

Course of the disease

In the case of meningococcal meningitis (bacterial meningitis), prompt action is required because the disease worsens quickly and can be life-threatening. The disease often starts with a cold, grogginess and fever. One of the characteristics is neck stiffness. Babies often suffer from so-called diaper pain. This means that they cry violently when being changed. Another important feature are small skin bleeds that cannot be pressed away (even if you press on them with a glass, they remain visible as spots). In 20 to 30% of cases, serious complications occur with permanent symptoms such as loss of body parts (hands and feet), deafness, motor problems and learning and behavioral problems. 10 to 20% of cases of illness have a fatal outcome.

What should you do?

Don’t hesitate for a moment, contact your doctor or take your child to the hospital.

Immunity

If you have had meningococcal disease you are not always adequately protected. That is why children are still vaccinated after an infection. Vaccination when the child is fourteen months old provides long-term protection.

Incubation period

One to several days. The tricky thing is that the bacteria can survive in the wearer’s nasal cavity for weeks to months without causing him or her to become ill. Anyone who carries the bacteria and does not become ill builds up immunity, but can be a source of infection for others.

GP

Always contact your doctor if in doubt!

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