When it comes to contagious childhood illnesses, not a lot of us are aware that adults can also be affected by them.
A few days before her 30th birthday, my cousin Claire called to say that she might not make it to her own party. Dismayed, she informed me and the rest of the family that she had gotten sick because a handful of students in the preschool class she teaches had come down with what seemed to be the flu.
We later found out that it was in fact not the flu, but a far more concerning condition—it was one of the most common contagious childhood illnesses—which was known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease or HFMD. This is not the only condition prevalent in kids that adults can catch, too.
Here are 5 contagious childhood illnesses that could also strike adults
Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease (HFMD)
Image source: Wikipedia
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease, or what is also known as the Coxsackie virus can be prevented through proper hygiene and handwashing, but it still affects many kids under the age of 5. Older children and adults can also contract the disease.
This condition first appears as small blisters on the hands, feet, and mouth. Other symptoms include fever, headache, poor appetite and sore throat.
HFMD spreads through saliva, sputum, or nasal mucous. In some cases, coming into contact with infected blister fluid or stool can hasten the spread of this condition.
Parvovirus (Fifth disease)
This particular contagious disease may cause mild symptoms in children, but it can be more serious for adults. In kids, it appears as cheek reddening, rashes on the arms and legs, and a low-grade fever.
In adults, however, Parvovirus involves joint soreness in the hands, wrists, knees and ankles, which can last up to a couple of weeks.
As for pregnant women who did not contract this condition as a child, this virus can lead to fetal problems. Parvovirus also poses health risks in those with anaemia or weakened immune systems.
Roseola (Sixth disease)
Image source: Baby Centre UK
Though this viral condition usually strikes toddlers and babies under the age of two, adults are also vulnerable to contracting this disease.
If you’re an adult who has never had Roseola during childhood, you should be extra cautious when caring for a child who has it.
How? As with most contagious childhood illnesses, strict handwashing and good hygiene helps prevent the spread of this condition.
Roseola manifests as a sudden high fever, which lasts for two to three days, then pinkish rashes may appear all over the arms, neck, or torso.
Image source: iStock
If you already had chickenpox as a child, you don’t really have to worry, unless your chickenpox evolves into Shingles,
Shingles, which is also known as Herpes Zoster or reactivated chickenpox, results in painful rashes and blisters across your torso.
Though it poses no serious risks, Shingles could cause extreme pain as well as a burning sensation, numbness, and extreme itching.
Vaccination can prevent Shingles, but once an adult is infected, doctors can prescribe antiviral drugs to combat the condition.
Those who have not contracted chickenpox as a child are naturally at risk as an adult, especially if they have not received chickenpox vaccination.
Chickenpox in adults results in similar symptoms as that of childhood chickenpox, but the itching, fever, rashes, and congestion are usually more severe.
Plus, it puts adults at risk for other serious conditions, such as pneumonia or encephalitis.
To treat chickenpox in adults, doctors prescribe antiviral drugs and paracetamol.
As for home remedies, rest and hydration are very important. Calamine rubs and oatmeal baths have also been known to provide relief from extreme itching.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
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If you are caring for a child diagnosed with whooping cough, which causes severe chronic coughing and thick phlegm production, know that you are not completely immune to it just because it is more prevalent in children.
Once an adult is struck by whooping cough, cough and cold symptoms can persist for more than a month.
To prevent the spread of whooping cough, practice strict handwashing; cover your mouth and nose with a clean cloth when coughing or sneezing and make sure your kids do the same.
Caring for yourself is the best way to give the best care, so stay healthy by remembering these simple tips on how to prevent the spread of some of the most contagious childhood illnesses!
sources: Parents.com, Women’s Health, Mayo Clinic
READ: 7 Types of cough that you need to worry about