Preparing to go back to school after the summer holidays involves the usual search for school uniform, new shoes, schoolbags, lunch boxes and pencil cases. However, have you considered how your local pharmacy can help you get ready for the back to school rush?
Children returning to school - all back together again - creates a prime time to pass on bacteria, parasites and viruses that they may have collected over the holidays. Outbreaks of head lice, worms, warts and verruca’s are common. Your pharmacist and their staff are there to provide products and advice (including access to the Minor Ailments Scheme where the treatments are free).
Head lice and nits are an all too common problem - particularly among kids at school. The head louse can be a real problem pest, as it spreads quickly and easily. School children are particularly susceptible to head lice, especially when they go back to school after a holiday or break.
An outbreak of head lice is also known as Pediculosis capitis or head lice infestation. Fortunately, there is a wide range of head lice treatments available in your local pharmacy, including Hedrin, Full Marks, Lyclear, detector combs and shampoos. There are products to treat and also some that protect or deter against infestation.
What about worms? How will you know?
If your child has threadworm they will experience itching of the anus. This itching gets worse at night, when the worms come to the skin surface to lay eggs. The symptoms of threadworm are uncomfortable, but pose no threat to the health of your child if quickly treated.
If your child has threadworm it is recommended that you treat all members of your household to reduce the risk of reinfection or spreading the condition.
Your pharmacist can advise on anti-parasitic medicines containing mebendazole (Ovex) or piperazine (Pripsen), which are used for the treatment of worms in children. A single dose is usually all that is needed, but it pays to be vigilant as they can easily return.
Threadworm in children is spread by contact. Young children often touch objects and then put their fingers in their mouths without a second though; this is why they are so susceptible to the condition. Good hygiene is always the best line of defence; make sure children wash their hands after going to the toilet and try to discourage them from sucking their thumbs or biting their nails.
Warts are caused by a virus known as human papilloma virus, and they can occur at any time in our lives. Verrucas are warts that occur on the feet and are usually flatter in shape.
Although verrucas and warts are not harmful (and they'll generally disappear after about a year), they can, if in an awkward place, be painful or obstruct certain tasks. Some people will also find verrucas and warts unsightly, and will wish to speed up their removal.
Verruca and wart removal products use acids, chemicals or freeze drying, to destroy the wart tissue and remove it. Some products available include Bazuka, Salactac gel, Freeze sprays and Verruca socks.
If your child will be taking part in swimming lessons at school, the school or the swimming pool will most likely insist on the use of a verucca sock if your child has a verucca.
Again - as with all these conditions - your pharmacist can give you advise as well as giving you a product to treat it.
Your Child's Immunity
Your child's immunity can be impacted or reduced by a number of things. Being back in school, being a fussy eater and being surrounded by other children can all play a part.
A reduced or lowered immunity can affect your child's stamina, concentration, growth and development over a period of time. It can also make them more susceptible to coughs and colds.
If you're concerned, speak with your pharmacist who will be able to determine whether or not a child-specific vitamin and mineral formulation would be of value to your child. Some of these contain Omega-3 and 6 oils, and other essential fish oils, which claim to aid in brain and eye development and also support concentration levels, which can be crucial when your child is at school.
Ask Your Pharmacist!
For all of these conditions - and for advise on all matters relating to your health - don't hesitate to speak to your pharmacist. They're an excellent source of trusted information, they can know and understand your medical history and the medicines you currently are taking, and - unlike a visit to your GP - there's usually not too long a wait to speak with them!
Good luck to all who are starting - or returning - to school!