How can I tell if my baby has pinworms?

Your baby may have no symptoms, but disturbed sleep and fussiness due to nighttime itching is a big tip-off. Occasionally pinworms will also cause an upset tummy. You can confirm your suspicions by checking your baby's bottom and diaper for worms at night with a flashlight. You can also check for the presence of worms by gently pressing a piece of transparent tape to your baby's anus. Eggs will stick to the tape, and you can take it to his doctor to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor may also have a special...

What are pinworms?

Pinworms are small, white worms (Enterobius vermicularis) that infest the intestines. The worms, which look like quarter-inch-long pieces of dental floss, can be seen wiggling around the anus and in the stool. It can be upsetting to discover that your baby has pinworms, but keep in mind that this common childhood malady isn't a sign of poor hygiene. Also, the worms pose no health risks, and — unlike lice — are easily eradicated.

How can I prevent my baby from spreading the infection to others?

If your baby's impetigo isn't treated, he may be contagious for several weeks. Once he begins antibiotic treatment and the rash starts to clear (usually after 24 hours), he's no longer contagious. In the meantime, keep your baby out of daycare and other close-contact situations. Be vigilant about hygiene: Wash your baby's clothes, sheets, and towels every day and prevent friends and family members from sharing soap, towels, hairbrushes, or other personal items with your baby. Wear gloves when you apply his ...

How is impetigo treated?

If the infection is very mild, your baby's doctor may recommend that you simply keep the area clean and let it clear up on its own. More likely, though, your baby will need antibiotics to get rid of the infection. He must take the full course of medication to keep the infection from returning. Instead of oral antibiotics, your baby's doctor may prescribe an antibiotic skin cream to clear up the rash. Whether or not your baby receives antibiotics, you'll need to keep the infected skin clean. Twice a day, gen...

How did my baby get impetigo?

Pretty easily — impetigo is very contagious. Your baby may have picked up the bacteria by touching an infected child or some object that the child touched, like a toy or a towel. Or he may have already had the bacteria on the surface of his skin and then gotten a cut, allowing the bacteria to enter and cause an infection. In addition to cuts and scrapes, the bacteria can invade the skin through cold sores, eczema, an insect bite, or other areas where your child's skin is damaged or sensitive. He may get it ...

What are the symptoms of impetigo?

There are different kinds of impetigo, with different symptoms, but it usually shows up as a cluster of little red blisters that ooze, burst, and spread. Depending on the bacteria involved, however, the blisters may be larger and more resilient. The skin around the blisters may be red. Your baby's lymph nodes might become swollen in the area of the infection. Most often the blistering appears around the nose and mouth, but you might also see it on your baby's arms, legs, or other areas. Multiple patches are...

What is impetigo?

Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that happens when staph or strep bacteria enter the skin — through a cut or scrape, for example. It's most common among children between the ages of 2 and 6 years. Impetigo usually isn't dangerous, but it can be itchy and ugly. And complications — like more serious skin infections, scarring, and kidney inflammation — are possible, so it's important to treat impetigo promptly.

How do I protect the rest of my family from scabies?

All other members of the household, as well as caregivers, will probably also need to be treated, even if they show no symptoms. It's best if everyone gets treated at the same time, so one contaminated person doesn't reinfect everybody else. Though there's little evidence that scabies can spread through linens and bed sheets, for peace of mind you'll want to vacuum the floors (throwing the vacuum bag in the trash), and then wash all clothing, towels, and bedding in water hotter than 140 degrees Fahrenheit a...

How is scabies treated?

Your doctor will prescribe a topical medication that you'll need to spread over every inch of your baby's body from the neck down. Even parts of the body that don't seem to be infected must be treated, so don't skip them. Don't forget to put the cream between your child's toes and fingers, under his arms, in his navel, and on his genitals. If you see the telltale rash on your baby's scalp or face, apply the cream along his hairline, as well as on his forehead, scalp, and temples. Follow the directions for l...

How can I be sure my baby has scabies? Should I call the doctor?

You should always call the doctor if your baby has an unidentified rash. The sooner he's treated, the sooner he'll be more comfortable. The doctor will take a look at the rash and possibly do a painless test that involves scraping off a small sample of skin and looking at it under a microscope. Scabies mites and their eggs are visible when magnified. Mites can be easy to miss, though, because there are usually only ten or fewer on an infected person.

What are the symptoms for scabies?

If your baby gets scabies, he'll develop a severely itchy rash of scattered red bumps, usually between the fingers, around the wrists, and on the outside of the elbows, armpits, lower abdomen, and genitals. It may also show up on the kneecaps and the sides of the feet. Older children and adults don't tend to get the rash on their palms, soles, scalp, or face, but your baby might. You may see curvy or razor-thin red lines where the mites have burrowed under the skin. Your baby may also develop little pustule...

What is scabies?

Scabies is a skin irritation caused by an infestation of tiny parasitic mites that burrow under the skin. The bumpy rash you see is actually an allergic reaction to the eggs and feces the mites leave behind. The name comes from a Latin word meaning "to scratch," and if your baby has scabies, he's likely to be doing lots of that. Your baby can contract scabies through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has it. Scabies is extremely contagious, and anyone can get it — even if they're scrupulously clean. It ...

What do I need to do to get rid of lice in the household?

Fortunately, lice survive without a human host for only a day or two. The nits take a week to ten days to hatch, though, so to play it safe, follow these guidelines: 1. Machine wash in hot water all the clothing and bed linens your baby came in contact with during the two days before treatment began. Put these items in the dryer on a high setting for at least 20 minutes. 2. Put all stuffed animals, comforters, and clothing that can't be washed in a sealed plastic bag for two weeks. An alternative suggested ...

How do I get rid of lice?

Because lice can travel from one head to another, getting rid of the bugs and nits right away can keep them from spreading to other children and family members. But eliminating lice isn't always easy. Lice-killing shampoos, called pediculicides, might sound convenient, but they're not safe for babies or toddlers and probably not very effective, either. Even on older children the use of these shampoos is controversial. Many parents and experts say lice have become resistant to the products. And some parents ...

How did my baby get lice?

Your little one may have picked them up from an infected sibling or at daycare. Lice are crawling insects, so they can't hop, jump, or fly, but they can travel from one head to another by direct contact. Off the scalp, they live for a day or two and can be passed along when people share pillows, hats, and so on. It's a myth that lice are a product of poor hygiene or poverty. Head lice are remarkably egalitarian and can flourish in even the wealthiest communities.

How will I know if my baby has head lice?

A daycare provider may call with the bad news. Or you may notice that your baby's frequently scratching or rubbing his scalp, particularly around the back of his head or ears. But head lice don't always cause itching, especially in the beginning, so your first hint may be the telltale lice eggs, called nits, in your baby's hair. Nits are tiny and pearly white, and they tend to stick to the hair shaft — unlike lint or the flakes from cradle cap, which brush out easily. It can be hard to identify nits and lic...

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