Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Of Roseola Infantum and Erythema Infectiousum

If you're wondering what in the heck the title of this post means, then it's most likely that (a) you don't have any kids (b) your kids are all grown and you don't remember anything remotely resembling these names that have any connection with children or (c) your kids haven't come down with these illnesses.

I myself had no idea that such diseases existed until my own kids came down with them. Tim had his bout with roseola last year and initially we were scared that he had dengue or malaria (both common illnesses in Timor Leste). He had a high fever for a few days then had rashes come out all over his body. We were thinking of having his blood tested but then thanks to my Mom (the bestest ever!) who bought us this great resource (Caring for Your Baby and Young Child) and Dr. Bernard Valman's home guide for parents, another recommended resource for parents (I got this on sale at National Bookstore for less than 100 pesos last year), hubby and I were able to assess Tim's condition and decided to just call his pediatrician. True enough, since Tim's rashes appeared AFTER his fever had gone down, he was diagnosed with roseola infantum, a common childhood disease caused by a virus. It is self-limiting so after a few days of the non-itchy rash, Tim was back to normal.

You'd probably think that since we had had this experience before we would be less panicked about Rysse's developing roseola. But this was not the case. Last month, during Holy Week, on Holy Wednesday to be exact, Rysse started having a fever which did not go away for a few days. Needless to say, it was already Good Friday and all the clinics here were closed. I was so tempted to panic and bring her to the ER. BUT THEN, the fever disappeared and the rashes came out. A lightbulb went on in my head! AHA! It's roseola again! So we phoned her pedia again, got the diagnosis and rested easy, knowing that the viral infection would just run its course. You can tell that a lot of people have no idea what roseola is because when we brought Rysse with us for the Easter Triduum activities, everyone would ask "What's wrong with her?/Why does she have rashes? etc etc" When we would answer "Roseola," they'd get this "What's that?" look on their faces. Some asked outright "What is that?!" Eventually I got tired of explaining in detail and would just say "It's like a milder version of measles." :)

We thought that that would be the end of our encounter with childhood viral infections for the meantime, but lo and behold, not even after a month, Rysse comes down with a fever again, which lasted for no more than a day. The next day however, bright red rashes appeared on her cheeks in the early afternoon, giving her the appearance that she had been slapped. We thought that this was brought about by her attempts to scratch her head and face so we dismissed it. The cheek rashes disappeared but then she developed a rash (more like red raised spots) distributed on her neck, arms, legs and trunk. At first I thought it was due to the heat but when the rashes didn't go away, I looked it up again in our handy-dandy home guide. And lo and behold, her symptoms seemed to match those of erythema infectiousum, more commonly known as fifth disease, which is another common childhood viral infection. 

(Rysse still joyful and cute even when she's sick)

Anyway, we brought her to the pedia and the diagnosis was confirmed. (Pic below shows the rashes, though not so clear, as I am photographically-challenged! haha) 
It turns out that erythema, like its "cousin" roseola, is a mild illness and self-limiting too. As I write this post, Rysse is almost 100% recovered, thank God, and with the help of my new favorite natural miracle oil, virgin coconut oil, her rashes (including the really bad diaper/heat rash she developed on our last mission trip to Baucau) are almost completely gone.

This post goes out especially to all parents/caregivers of children out there who may not have had any experience with roseola (sixth illness) and erythema infectiosum (fifth illness). Actually to all parents/caregivers of children period. :) The most important tips I'd like to share are:

(a) When your child gets sick, DON'T PANIC (have to tell myself that a lot!).

(b) Take note of all signs and symptoms, when they started, etc etc

(c) Being well-informed is always a BONUS. If you can afford to, invest in childcare books such as those mentioned above. We usually buy ours at secondhand bookstores or at sales.

(d) Don't be afraid to call your pediatrician when your child is ill. If in doubt, it always pays to BE THE OBSESSIVE PARENT. (But please don't hound your pedia 24/7! A mistake I've made once before, which deserves a post of its own. hahaha.)

(e) Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is actually the real deal!!!! It has so many health benefits and is all-natural! Perfect for Baby's tender skin!

(f) Pray and have faith. (Again, note to self!!! Don't forget this!!! hahaha). God is bigger than all our problems and worries combined.

Happy Parenting everyone!

P.S. For Rysse's bad diaper rash, I religiously applied VCO, put a bit of zinc-medicated powder in her diaper, and applied a bit of drapolene cream after every diaper change. Also, I stopped using disposables and let her sit around butt-naked every now and then. :) After about a week, her rash is clearing up quite nicely! Thank You God! :)

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