What Do You Do When The School Nurse Sends Your Kid Home?

I’ve got two children; a son and daughter and now that they are school age, life has become a little more manageable.  I say a little, because there is still a lot going on, it just entails a lot more driving and after school activities.  So you can imagine my surprise as a former nurse when my son came home with a school note informing me that the classroom had been exposed to a case of lice.  Yuck! For the next couple of weeks I thoroughly scrutinized his head, pillows and basically freaked out anytime he started intensely scratching his scalp.  The good news? So far we’ve remained lice-free, but it did get me thinking about what to do when you get the dreaded note home.

Let’s take a look at what might qualify as truly urgent attention and what can be stuck under the ‘wait and see’ category.

  • Chickenpox, measles: Basically anything in the childhood diseases category would warrant a closer look at your child in the upcoming days.  Is he/she looking a little peaked, a little less spring in their always energetic steps?  Unless for medical or religious reasons, you should always have your children vaccinated before entering school, but even having your child complete all their shot series, infection could still occur, albeit in a much reduced state.  If you suspect your exposed child has been stricken with any of these highly-contagious diseases, don’t be afraid to call your pediatrician and describe your child’s condition as well as the note home with the exposure date.  Sometimes the doctor will request that you NOT bring your sick child in.  As a responsible parent, you could appreciate not having your un-immunized infant exposed to a highly-communicable disease like the chickenpox.  Remember, infants do not receive their varicella (chickenpox) shot until they are at least a year old.
  • Strep-throat: Yep, if you have kids then chances are you are already familiar with this common malady.  It’s awful and yes, it will require a dose of antibiotics to clear it up, make sure that when you bring your child in for a throat swab that you mention the exposure to your doctor.  Also, keep your eyes peeled for others in your family, boil or throw everyone’s toothbrush in the dishwasher to try to keep these germs at bay.   Bring that hand sanitizer everywhere, if you can.
  • Lice/bedbugs: Just like our experience with these pesky nuisances, be ever-vigilant to anything on and around your child.   Unfortunately children love to share.  Hats, jackets and germs (bugs, too).  And with such close quarters at school, school buses and recess, cross-contamination can happen in the blink of an eye.   If even after all your militant screening, you still find those repulsive little critters snagged in your child’s hair, once you have finished screaming, get online and start researching.  Fortunately, there are many options available without a prescription.  Something your pediatrician will probably thank you for as well.  Get online first and start your search, chances are you’ll find many over-the-counter options available at your local drug store.   If adding chemicals to your children’s heads make you feel too uncomfortable, look into some alternative options, there are recipes that have been purportedly tried and true and with less toxicity.  Just make sure to comb through your child’s hair often with a tightly-toothed comb to remove lice and most importantly the eggs (nits).  Just one egg will start the cycle all over again.

At the end of the day, childhood illnesses are a part of childhood.   Don’t forget before you jump all over another parent, chances are that you have also inadvertently exposed others to illness as well.  If however, there seems to be a preponderance of illnesses in your class, it may not hurt to bring up the issue with the teacher.  Coming home with repeated exposures to lice not only ranks high on the annoyance monitor, but should perhaps be further investigated.  Remember, also to keep yourself healthy and checked for any hitchhikers.  As icky as it is, you’ve got to maintain good health for your family.   After all, as a parent, once your child is healthy again, they’ll be up and running around once more and fully expected for you to be right there with them.

About the Author:

Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years.  During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages.  Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes most of her free time to writing for www.rnnetwork.com a site specializing in travel nursing.

Kathryn Norcutt

Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes most of her free time to writing for RNnetwork, a site specializing in traveling nurse - http://www.rnnetwork.com/.

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