How to Head Back to School with Healthy Kids

As you get school bags packed, books and stationary labelled and uniforms good to go, here are a few preventative health measures to add to your checklist.

 

back to school ready

Going back to school is a busy time – there’s hundreds of pens, pencils, rulers, books and uniforms to label. Then there’s the lunch box treats to cook up and freeze for easier morning routines, and rooms to clean out to be ready for the school year ahead.

As well the practicalities, there are also a range of health checks to do to make sure they are ready for their first day.

Head Lice

While head lice is often picked up when the frantic head scratching ensues, or close inspection reveals them jumping around, it’s very possible for head lice to go undetected. As they spread easily, especially through schools, it’s recommended you check your child’s head before school recommences (and regularly throughout the term.)

  • Carefully comb plenty of hair conditioner through dry hair. The conditioner slows the head lice down so they can be trapped in the comb.
  • Comb hair again in sections using a metal fine-tooth ‘nit comb’ (buy one here).
  • Wipe the waste from the comb on a white paper towel. Look for head lice and eggs using a magnifying glass in strong light, such as sunlight.
  • Use a magnifying glass in strong light to examine hair close to the scalp, especially behind the ears and at the back of the neck.
  • Distract children while you check for head lice by offering them a favourite video or game, a book, or a head massage.

Do be aware other objects in the hair can be mistaken for head lice or eggs – for example sand, dandruff, flakes of hair spray, ants, aphids, or other small insects.

If you find head lice on your child’s head, step one is to carefully check everyone else, then head to Chemmart for a suitable treatment – there are a number of them on the market, and your pharmacist will be able to provide advice. Make sure you continue treatment for the full time recommended, including follow up hair checks.

Worms

Threadworms are any long slender roundworms, commonly found in preschool and school aged children. Spread when children scratch their bottom and carry the worm eggs back to their mouth with their hands, they may also be spread in food, dust, or other articles. While easily cured with medication, repeat infections are very common.

Signs and symptoms of threadworm include:

  • An itchy bottom, which may become red and inflamed from scratching
  • Irritable mood
  • Poor sleep
  • Girls may experience redness and itching around the vagina.

Threadworms are usually diagnosed with the ‘sticky tape’ test, which you can get from your GP. If the test reveals an infection, your doctor will advise you on the best treatment. Chemmart has a range of products to assist. Special precautions may be given for children under 2 years of age and during pregnancy.

Asthma

The first few weeks back to school can be a tricky time for children with asthma, the Asthma Foundation advising emergency departments experience an increase in children attending due to asthma at the start of each school year.

This spike occurs in both school and pre-school aged children and occurs due to a number of different factors, including:

  • Lack of routine over the holidays
  • Stress and emotions
  • Pollen and bushfire smoke
  • Viruses and bugs
  • Hot weather.

If your child has asthma, make sure they go back to school well-prepared by following these recommendations:

  • Keep an eye out for asthma symptoms – especially in the first two weeks after school goes back. These can include wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or persistent coughing.
  • Have their asthma reviewed by a GP.
  • Provide the school with an up-to-date asthma action plan, and chat to their teachers about it.

It’s a good time to ensure your child is taking their asthma medication properly. Chemmart offers a free Asthma Check in store. Book in today.

Sun protection

The start of the school term coincides with some of the least sun smart friendly weather of the year. The Cancer Council suggest you keep your kids protected with the following strategies:

  • For best protection, combine the five recommended behaviours
    • Slip on sun protective clothing.
    • Slop on SPF 30 or above water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen.
    • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat.
    • Seek shade.
    • Slide on wrap-around sunnies.
  • Encourage your kids to apply SPF30 or above water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning after breakfast. Purchase yours here.
  • Encourage your children to seek shady areas where they can eat and play.
  • Pop small tubes of SPF30 or above sunscreen into the whole family’s lunch boxes every day.
  • Ensure your child has access to a SunSmart hat that protects their head, face, ears and neck from the sun. A drawstring also helps to keep their hat on their heads during fast-paced activities.


Your Chemmart pharmacist can provide you with advice and products that will help treat a range of common school aged health issues.

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