Back to School!

As summer break ends, my office starts to get busy.  Putting all those kids together at school in a confined place is a perfect way to transmit infection.  Here are some recommendations to limit your child’s visits to the doctor this school year.
 
First, I want to start with some basic, obvious healthcare tips.  A good nights’ sleep paired with a healthy diet is imperative to good health and peak performance in school.  If your child’s diet lacks diversity, add a basic multivitamin.   Encourage your children to wash their hands before eating at school.  Good hand washing is the easiest and most effective way to control the spread of infection.  In addition, remind your kids not to share food and drinks; someone can be contagious without feeling ill.
 
Gym showers and locker room floors are breeding grounds for tinea pedis, the fungus that causes athletes foot.  Make sure your athlete wears shower shoes in the locker room and thoroughly dries his/her feet after showering to help prevent this irritating problem.
 
Another health tip is to not share hats, combs, or brushes.  Lice do not jump or fly, they crawl.  So it is close contact, like sleeping in the same bed or sharing the aforementioned objects, that transmits the bugs.  Lice can be difficult and frustrating to treat.  The over-the-counter remedies are safe and effective, but sometimes a prescription medication needs to be used.  Be careful not to mistake dandruff flakes for nits (a louse’s egg casing).  If uncertain, come in to the doctor for evaluation.
 
Vaccinate your children.  This year, the flu shot protects against H1N1 as well as seasonal flu, so two different vaccines are not necessary.  Also, there is presently a pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic.  Make sure your child is up to date on this vaccine.  Current recommendations are to receive a booster before kindergarten entrance and then at 11 years.
 
Obviously, there is not one fail-safe way to keep your children healthy during the school year.  But, by discussing and explaining health prevention with them, your children become active members of their health team.  This can empower them to make strides toward staying healthy.  Just remember, only nine months until June.
All information given is not a substitute for the advice of your pediatrician, primary care provider or trained health professional.  Always consult with your pediatrician or health care professional

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