7 Childhood Ailments That Can Hit Adults, Too!

Plus how to avoid them, and what to do if you get them.

4. Whooping cough (pertussis)

  • Caused by: Bacteria
  • Symptoms and spread: A gasping cough accompanied by a runny nose and low-grade fever. Whooping cough is airborne and can cause lethal pneumonia and seizures in infants.
  • Prevention: Vaccination again, this time the combined DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine shots for children and boosters for teens and adults.
  • Treatment: Your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics.

5. Cradle cap and dandruff

  • Caused by: The infantile form of seborrheic dermatitis is called cradle cap. In adults, it's known more commonly as dandruff. Both ailments are caused by an overproduction of oil by the body's sebaceous glands. They may be aggravated by a common fungus.
  • Symptoms and spread: You'll see yellow, scaly patches on a baby's scalp, ears, eyes, nose or groin. In adults, waxy white flakes appear on the scalp. This condition is not contagious, but it may run in families.
  • Treatment: For adults, use a dandruff shampoo regularly. For babies, a gentle dandruff shampoo may help loosen flakes, after which you can use a soft brush or towel to help clear the affected areas. For stubborn cases, your pediatrician may prescribe a stronger shampoo and ointment.

6. Fifth disease

  • Caused by: A virus
  • Symptoms and spread: In kids, you'll see a telltale rash on the chest, limbs or face, leading to the alternate name "slapped cheek disease." The rash is accompanied by a low fever and cold-like symptoms. In adults, symptoms include a rash, plus joint pain and swelling that can linger. Fifth disease is spread by saliva and mucus. Because the illness may pose a risk of miscarriage, pregnant women should consult their physicians if they're exposed to a child or adult who has it.
  • Treatment: Fifth disease goes away on its own. Simply treat any bothersome symptoms with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

7. Impetigo

  • Caused by: Infection by either streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria, both fairly common on healthy skin.
  • Symptoms and spread: Impetigo causes itchy, oozing blisters around open wounds or scratches from poison ivy or insect bites. The condition is contagious to those who touch the affected area -- or even any fabric (like towels or sheets) that has been in contact with the wound.
  • Treatment: Wash the blistered area daily with antiseptic soap and keep it bandaged. Call your doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics. Launder the affected personís sheets, towels and clothing separately in very hot water, and wash your hands often with antiseptic soap.

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