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Q&A Tips for Happier Healthy Children

Provided by HealthMonitor

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NUT ALLERGY EXILE!
Q My 10-year-old is allergic to nuts, so he's relegated to the peanut-free lunch table at school. How can I help him feel like less of an outcast?
A At some schools, the location of the peanut-free table may be isolating. If you're uncomfortable with the seating arrangement, talk to the principal. Depending on the severity of your child's allergy, it may not be necessary for him to sit at a peanut-free table. Some schools let an allergic child's friends sit at his table as long as their lunch is peanut-free.

Lunch is an important time for children to socialize, and peanut-free tables may be more harmful than helpful. I encourage parents to consider more integrated seating by the time their child reaches third or fourth grade. If a peanut-free seating arrangement is necessary for your son, encourage him to make friends with the other children at the table. Consider packing extra peanut-free snacks in his lunch bag so he can share them with others.
'Robert A. Wood, MD, professor of pediatrics and international health; chief, pediatric allergy and immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore

SIGNS OF LICE
Q I'm worried my 8-year-old daughter might have lice. How can I tell?
A Don't panic, and try not to let your daughter feel bad about it! Head lice are common in young children. Have your child sit under a bright light and look for tan to reddish-brown bugs the size of a sesame seed. They crawl quickly, but they don't fly. Don't forget to check the nape of your child's neck and behind her ears. If you don't see any bugs, look for eggs, called "nits," which are firmly attached to the hair close to the scalp. A magnifying glass can help you spot the nits.

If you find lice, tell your daughter's teacher and healthcare provider. She may not be able to return to school until she is lice- or nit-free. Most professionals advise using a lice-killing over-the-counter shampoo or rinse. The majority of products eliminate the lice but not all the eggs, so a second treatment is often recommended 7 to 10 days later.
'Barbara Frankowski, MD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT

RASH ALERT
Q There's an outbreak of fifth disease at my child's school, and he just came home with a red rash on his arms and cheeks. What should I do?
A Fifth disease is a common illness caused by a virus called parvovirus B19. The initial symptoms can include fever, a runny nose and a headache. Then, what's known as a "slapped cheek" rash may appear on the face and/or body. The rash may also show up on the chest, back, buttocks, arms or legs. It may be itchy, and it may come and go for several weeks. People with fifth disease can also develop temporary pain and swelling in their joints. There is no treatment for fifth disease; it usually goes away on its own.

Those who contract the disease are most contagious before they get the rash, so your son can return to school if he feels well. Of course, the rash could be caused by an allergy or another virus. Call your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis.
'Robert S. Baltimore, MD, professor of pediatrics and epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT
Allergy Anxiety Fever Headache Itchy Pain Pain, Head Rash Runny Nose Stuffed up Nose Stuffy Nose Sesame Sesame Seed Panic Fifth's Disease Malaise Swelling

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