9 Common Childhood Illnesses that Rarely affects Adults


Given below is a list of 9 common childhood illnesses that are not very familiar to adults, caused by viruses or bacteria, and are preventable by simple hygienic maintenance.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

This is one of the common childhood illness that is more common than influenza(flu), but is more problematic than the flu. RSV has the same symptoms of fever, cough, and runny nose as in flu and cold. Wheezing is a prominent symptom in RSV and in children below 1 year, RSV is the primary cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis (inflammation of the smaller air passages in lungs). RSV infection lasts for a minimum of one to two weeks, and could reoccur any time.

Fifth Disease

Also known by the name of ‘Slapped Cheek,’ this causes a red rash on the face that is similar to a slap mark. This red rash can also be found on the torso and limbs. This is caused by human parvovirus and at least 20% of the children succumb to this before the age of five, and a minimum of 60% before the age of 19. This is a benign problem and lasts only for a period of 7 to 10 days.

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand Foot Mouth Disease
A very common childhood illness, this is caused by various viruses called enteroviruses. This is prevalent mostly in summer and early days of fall. The disease is symbolic of a fever with blisters/sores in the mouth and the palms and the soles. These blisters may also be seen on the buttocks. Generally, this is not a serious condition with severe discomfort but that subsides in a span of 8 to 10 days.


Croup is caused by a group of viruses known as human parainfluenza viruses that also cause the common cold. Croup is symptomatic of ‘barking cough’ and can become serious enough for professional treatment, but not fatal in most of the cases. This usually lasts for a week. At least 6% of children below six years are prone to croup, mostly at the age of two.

Scarlet Fever

Scarlet Fever
This is a rash that at times is seen with strep throat (infection caused due to group A streptococcus). This rash begins on the chest and abdomen and spreads the length of the entire body, and is bright red similar to sunburn and deep red around the armpit regions. The tongue is whitish in appearance with bright red taste buds. Other symptoms include facial flushing with paleness around the mouth region. Back in the good old days, scarlet fever was feared but now it is more or less only a rash that can be easily treated with antibiotics.


Impetigo stands third in the most common skin problems in children and is a bacterial infection that is contagious even to the adults. This is usually seen in children in the ages of two to six. Impetigo is significant of itchy little sores/bumps oozing fluid that forms a honey-colored crust. This fluid spreads the infection to the other parts of the body and also those who come in contact with the child. Antibiotics clear up this infection and the sores heal without any scar.

Kawasaki Disease

Named after Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki, this is a rare childhood disease that has no known cause, and is significant of different combination of symptoms, i.e., high fever, rash, swollen hands and feet, red colored palms and soles, bloodshot eyes, chapped lips, and swollen lymph glands. This causes inflammation in the heart vessels leading to severe heart damage. Only high doses of immune boosting drugs help this condition. This can sometimes lead to fatality. Causes are still unknown but there is research trying to pinpoint this trigger in children with certain genetic traits.

Reye’s Syndrome

This is a fatal but extremely rare illness. It’s onset follows viral illnesses like the chickenpox or the flu, and causes liver problems with swelling in the brain leading to erratic behavior and personality changes, loss of consciousness, seizures and ultimately coma. The mortality rate is as high as 30%. Although the cause is yet unfound, taking aspirin during a viral infection is related as the cause.

Whooping Cough

Also known as Pertussis, this is bacterial infection that is contagious irrespective of the age. Infants succumb to it more often and needs to be vaccinated against this. Severe cough is one of the main symptoms of this disease causing the child to cough hard enough to make breathing difficult. Although vaccination has lessened the occurrence, the number of whooping cough cases have been increasing since 1980s. This is attributed to the life of the vaccination being not more than 10 years.


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