Kids are gross.
Scratch that. Kids are disgusting germ hosts capable of smearing their infected secretions from one end of the house to the other. If they aren’t sticking their fingers in their noses, they are forgetting to wash their hands after they use the bathroom. They wipe snotty noses on sleeves, pick at their scabs, and bite their nails down to the quick. Throw in fighting us at bath time and a 3-year-old’s view on toothbrushing, and it’s evident that kids are pretty damned revolting.
And that’s just when they are healthy.
When they get sick, kids ratchet up their vile, germ-spreading ways to a whole new level. Vomiting buckets of puke across the bathroom at 2 a.m., coughing chunks of phlegm on our shirts as they hack, and diarrhea explosions that make us question why we decided to procreate are the norm when our kids get viruses and colds. When my kids have the plague, I resist the urge to bathe in Purell while hosing my house down with hazmat-approved chemicals. Not to mention the wailing and chest-beating I do when they have to stay home from school until their fevers have been gone for 24 hours.
But while vomiting and chunky style coughs are a pain, as every mother knows, there are childhood illnesses that make us all stop in our tracks. The mere mention of these ailments causes us all to immediately debate the risks versus benefits of burning our entire houses down and starting over. All one parent has to do is utter the word “lice,” and you will see a host of parents running down the street, screaming and running for the hills as they claw at their itchy scalps.
No one wants anything that lice has to offer, obviously, but I have news for you: Lice isn’t the only icky disease kids can get and bring home to you. I suggest you go grab the hand sanitizer before you read this list of gross AF childhood illnesses:
1. Molluscum Contagiosum
When the root word “contagious” is in the name of a common kid virus, parents panic, but never fear, molloscum’s bark is worse than its bite. Characterized by pink or flesh-colored bumps on the skin, this skin affliction is caused by a common virus and, while contagious, isn’t cause for panic. It totally sounds gross though, and could likely be the reason for your kid’s first trip to the dermatologist.
Roseola is a virus that most kids get before kindergarten, and it’s symptoms include a prolonged fever followed by a spotty rash. Roseola is totally harmless, but parents panic when they hear that it’s caused by the herpes virus — there are two different strains that are responsible. Calm down though. While your kid will be crabby and assholish when he has the fever, it’s nothing that a big bottle of wine won’t cure. For you, not the kid.
3. Fifth Disease
I admit it, this one always makes me cringe, even though it is a harmless virus. A kid with Fifth disease may develop the classic “slapped cheek” rash as well as an itchy second rash on the torso, arms, and/or legs. Even though your kid will be fine, the virus can make your child look like some sort of demon creature. Fifth disease is contagious before the rash breaks out, which makes it awesomely annoying for parents because there’s no way to prevent it from coming to your house.
One mention of this skin disorder and I resist the urge to burn every item of my clothing, and I know you do too. The good news is that it’s a misnomer that ringworm is caused by an actual worm, thank goodness. Rather, ringworm is caused by a fungus and is easily treatable with antifungals prescribed by a dermatologist or family doctor. If you have a kid who wrestles or is a gymnast, chances are you’ve seen the telltale red, scaly patches on either your kid’s skin or someone else’s. It’s OK though. No need to burn anything. This too shall pass.
5. Conjunctivitis (aka Pink Eye)
Pink eye is a nasty, goopy infection commonly caused by a virus, bacteria, or allergen that affects the eye. While conjunctivitis is typically harmless (neonatal infections should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible), I don’t want any of that gunk coming out of my eye or to be forced to wear the glasses I haven’t updated in six years. As soon as I hear that it’s making the rounds in school, I warn my kids within an inch of their lives that they should avoid touching their eyes and wash their hands 900 times a day. Well, not 900, maybe like 876. See your doctor if your kid has the symptoms of pink eye because treatment depends on whether it’s a viral or bacterial form.
On the grossness scale, impetigo is an 8, mostly because the sores associated with this virus are pretty icky-looking. Often caused by the strep or staph bacteria, impetigo is highly contagious and often diagnosed in children who are 2 to 5 years old and attending daycare or school. The sores can be weepy and generally disgusting and must be treated with antibiotics in order to clear up.
Before I had kids, I rarely got sick. I almost never had to take a sick day, and I could count on my left hand the number of times I had seen a doctor for any sort of ailment. But since my kids have arrived, I am on a first-name basis with every member of our family practice office and I’m fairly certain I’m single-handedly responsible for the hand sanitizer companies still being in business. And while I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time bleaching down walls and cleaning up vomit, it’s all good. I just use the latest germs in my house as an excuse to pour an enormous glass of wine. Alcohol kills germs, right?