Everything you need to know about childhood diseases: symptoms, treatments and advice

There are many childhood diseases. And many of them are very contagious. In this article, we review the most common childhood diseases and how to treat them.

What is a childhood illness?

A childhood illness is a condition that occurs mostly in young children. Most of them are common and banal. They can have two origins: viral or bacterial.

For some diseases, there are vaccines and simple hygiene measures to apply to avoid contracting them and stay healthy.

What are the common childhood diseases in infants?

Here are the most common childhood diseases. All have different symptoms and treatments.


Chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). It is a highly contagious virus, most often found in late winter and spring.

Varicella is transmitted by several means:

  • It can be transmitted by direct contact with skin blisters and mucous membranes;
  • Or directly through the respiratory tract and saliva.

A person infected with chickenpox is contagious 24 to 48 hours before the rash appears, and continues to be contagious for about 1 week afterwards, until the vesicles dry up.

Symptoms of chickenpox include fever, rash that becomes vesicles (about 3 to 4 mm in diameter). The vesicles are also filled with a clear, pinkish fluid. Itching may also occur.

Theintensity of the rash depends on the person, some will have very few vesicles, while others will have several successive outbreaks that will cover the whole body.

Generally, chickenpox heals in 10 to 12 days.

Most children who get chickenpox as children are immune.

Scarlet fever

Scarlet fever is a bacterial childhood illness. Caused by the streptococcus family, it causes various symptoms such as fever, chills, sore throat (so the glands in the neck are swollen and the throat is red and swollen). Headaches, nausea, vomiting and stomach aches may also occur.

One of the characteristic symptoms of scarlet fever is the appearance of a rash on the skin about two to three days after the onset of the sore.

The red spots make the skin feel rough and gritty.


Bronchiolitis is a contagious viral disease , often impressive in its symptoms, but benign.

This disease affects children under 2 years old. Symptoms will be respiratory discomfort with coughing, rapid breathing and wheezing. It lasts an average of 10 days.

During the first ten days, the infant's surveillance is increased. It is nevertheless possible for some infants to develop a more serious form of bronchiolitis, leading to hospitalization.

The virus is present in saliva and bronchial secretions, it is therefore transmitted by: sneezing, spitting, coughing, kissing etc... but also through objects contaminated by saliva such as toys in children for example.


Gastroenteritis can come from different sources: virus, bacteria, parasite or fungus. But in children, most gastroenteritis is caused by a virus called "rotavirus".

Gastroenteritis is manifested by :

  • diarrhea;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • loss of appetite;
  • stomach cramps;
  • Fever;
  • Fatigue.

Gastroenteritis does not usually last very long, with vomiting subsiding in about two days, while diarrhea can last for one to two weeks. Gastroenteritis can cause dehydration.

Gastroenteritis is an infectious disease that is spread by:

  • contact with a sick person;
  • eating contaminated food or drinkingcontaminated water
  • contact with certain objects on which there are fine particles of stool and vomit from infected people.

Caution: a child can still be contagious the days following the disappearance of the symptoms


Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in young children.

It manifests itself by: a high fever, a runny nose, diarrhea, conjunctivitis, loss of appetite and the appearance of patches on the body.

It is contagious 6 days before the first signs appear, making it highly contagious. Since measles attacks the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, it can lead to very severe complications, even death. For this reason, it is mandatory to vaccinate babies against measles as soon as they reach 1 year old. After that, a booster shot should be given between the 16th and 18th month after the first vaccination.

The disease is transmitted through the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract.

Many other diseases

There are many other childhood diseases, such as otitis , which is an ear infection caused by a virus or bacteria.

Mumps is a viral disease characterized by inflammation of the salivary glands. In some children, it causes no visible symptoms.

Finally, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a viral disease but is mild.

What about bedwetting and diaper rash?

L'nocturnal enuresis or "bedwetting" is a common disorder in children. During his sleep, he will not be able to retain himself and he will thus urinate without realizing it. This can happen frequently or occasionally. Although bedwetting can be a concern for parents, it is not a childhood disease, but rather a developmental disorder.

As fordiaper rashis an irritation of the skin at the level of the diaper. It results in redness and local inflammation of the skin. Also, it is not a childhood disease but more a care problem or a skin reaction to the components of the diaper. Good hygiene and protective creams are effective in preventing diaper rash.

What are the types of illnesses in babies and children?

Childhood illnesses have several origins.

Viral or bacterial diseases

They can be of viral origin and give fever, it is the case for bronchiolitis, bronchitis, gastroenteritis, acute laryngitis, hand-to-mouth disease, chickenpox, roseola, mumps etc...

Or of bacterial origin as is the case for scarlet fever, certain gastroenteritis, whooping cough, bacterial meningitis.

Many can be prevented by vaccination.

Worms and parasites

Some can also be caused by parasites or worms. Examples are pinworms, giardiasis or ascariasis.

Skin diseases

There are also skin diseases such as scabies, warts, atopic eczema, hives etc...

Diseases related to growth and the environment

Some pathologies are caused by the simple growth of your baby, for example scoliosis. Your child may also be subject to allergies (food or not) and infant asthma. There are also

When should you see a doctor about your baby?

If your child has symptoms similar to those mentioned earlier in the article, it is advisable to consult your pediatrician. If you have any doubts about your baby's health, don't hesitate to consult.

The FAQ of the infantile diseases

What are the main contagious childhood diseases?

The main contagious childhood diseases are chickenpox, bronchiolitis, gastroenteritis and measles.

How to recognize childhood diseases?

Children's illnesses have specific symptoms, which vary depending on the illness. The best way to recognize them is to visit a doctor or a pediatrician.

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