CHILDREN'S HEALTH: Son's Infection Was Contagious; Knocked out by a Tiny Scratch ...Susan Lee Reports

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Byline: Susan Lee

WHEN Sarah Lowndes found a small scratch on her son's back she didn't take much notice.

But within days the area of infection had grown to several inches and then spread across his back.

``It was horrible. The skin blistered and when it burst it looked as though the area had been scalded. It happened so fast,'' recalls Sarah, who is 30 and lives in Warrington.

Initially, she treated the area with antiseptic cream but then consulted her GP who diagnosed impetigo.

``I'dnever even heard of it,''Sarah,an events manager,confesses.

Alex, then two-and-ahalf,had grazed the skin as he slid down a slide in the park.

``The doctor told me it was highly contagious so Alex had to be excluded from nursery. He also gave me cream which I put on three times a day,'' explains Sarah.

``He's never had it again but I'm really careful now and keep an eye on the slightest cut.''

Today,Look! HEALTH gives you the rundown on the three of the most common children's and tells you at what to do to prevent, spot and treat them. HEAD LICE These affect three in every thousand people at any one time but are most common in the four to 11 age group.

``Lice aren't fussy - they'lllive on clean or dirty,long or short hair,'' explains Ann Green, a nurse practitioner based at the Liverpool City Drop In Centre in Great Charlotte Street.

Spread by close contact the `nits'are eggs which attach themselves to the hair shaft.

What to look for: Live lice are grey or brown in colour, the eggs are smaller than a pinhead. The first sign of a child with lice may be an itchy scalp although the infestation may have taken place three months before that. Treatment: ``It's important to consult a health professional - don't just buy any over the counter treatment because different areas of the country have different resistance levels. Your GP or pharmacist canadvise,'' explains Ann. …