To Circ or not, that is the question…

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Eva Alessia, D.O.

“Should we have our son circumcised?” For parents of newborn boys, that is the question. Up until recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) did not have an official policy on circumcision. There is still no official policy, but the AAP will state that there is a slight benefit to being circumcised. The benefits are: decreased risk of urinary tract infection in the first 12 months of life, decreased risk of penile cancer and a lifetime decreased risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.  For certain religions and cultures, circumcision is a part of life.

As with all procedures, there may be some risk, such as bleeding, infection, removing too much or too little of the foreskin.  There are less complications when the circumcision is done in the newborn period than when the child is older.

The decision to circumcise your son may be a complicated one. Or it may be as simple as Dad saying, “I want my son to look like me.”

Learn more from the AAP at


Don’t Kiss the Girl

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Eva Alessia, D.O.

In the Disney classic, “The Little Mermaid,” a crab named Sebastian sings “Kiss the Girl” to the Prince. It’s a good thing he didn’t succeed, or else he may have caught mono! Mono, also known as the “kissing disease,” is a virus that is spread through contaminated saliva, hence the nickname. Once the virus enters your body, symptoms may not show up until 30 to 50 days after exposure! The symptoms can overlap with other diseases, like strep and the flu. A person with mono feels lousy and tired, with muscle aches, headache, stomach ache, sore throat, nausea and fever.

To diagnose mono, a simple finger prick in the office is usually enough. Sometimes, blood has to be drawn. Since mono is a virus, there is no medicine to make the virus go away faster. Time, rest and fluids are generally all that are needed. Sometimes, the sore throat is so severe that we prescribe steroids to shrink the swelling of the throat, so the patient can eat and breathe more easily. In half the patients, the spleen is enlarged. Sometimes we can feel the spleen on exam and sometimes we can’t. A lot of blood passes through the spleen. If a patient with an enlarged spleen gets hit in the stomach, it can make the spleen tear. That can be very serious! For that reason, we do not let patients with mono participate in PE, sports or any activity where they could be hit in the stomach for four weeks.ariel-eric-prince-eric-22300657-1280-720

Ok, you finally feel better—now what? Even after you feel 100 percent, the virus is in your saliva for six months! And up to 20 to 30 percent of previously infected people can spread the virus in their saliva at any particular time, even years later! Even more important not to “Kiss the Girl – or Guy!”


There’s a Fungus Among Us!

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Eva Alessia, D.O.

With the hot, humid summer upon us, kids are more susceptible to fungal infections especially “athletes foot” and ringworm. Here is a little more about the “fungus among us!”

Fungal infections of the feet are commonly known as “athlete’s foot.” The skin of the feet is red and scaly; sometimes the skin cracks, especially between the toes. It can be itchy and have an unpleasant odor. To prevent athlete’s foot, the feet should be as dry as possible. Dry feet thoroughly after taking a bath/shower, or coming out of the pool. Pay attention to in between the toes. Wear shoes and socks that can “breathe,” such as cotton socks, leather shoes or sandals.

Contrary to the name, ringworm is not caused by a worm. Ringworm is a fungal infection of the body. The fungus thrives on warm, moist skin.  It is a circular pink patch with a scaly, raised red edge or border. As the patch gets larger, the middle starts to “clear” and look more like the child’s usual skin tone. It can be itchy as well. Sometimes one can get ringworm from affected puppies or kittens.

Both can be contagious, either from direct skin-to-skin contact or a break, like a scratch, in the child’s skin coming in contact with a surface that has the fungus on it, such as a wrestling mat.feet

Both are treated with over the counter anti-fungal creams and lotions; the feet can be treated with anti-fungal powder also. Treatment is about four weeks. However, if the fungus is on the scalp or nails, creams or anything applied directly to the skin will not work. In those two instances, the child needs to take an anti-fungal medicine by mouth.


Wait to ‘Just Keep Swimming!’

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Swimmer’s ear is an infection of the ear canal. It’s often caused by water that remains in your ear after swimming, creating a moist environment that leads to overgrowth of bacteria. The risk factors for getting swimmer’s ear include:

  • Having a very narrow or hairy ear canal
  • Living in a warm, humid climate
  • Having little or no earwax
  • Having a history of of ear infections
  • Having eczema or dry skin
  • Suffering from swimmer’s ear before.

Swimmer’s ear can be very painful. The pain is worse when you touch/move the earlobe or another part of the outer ear or when you chew. It hurts to lie on the affected ear. Other symptoms can include itching, a feeling of fullness in the ear, and discharge from the ear. The ear canal may be swollen and red. In severe cases, the outer ear can be red and swollen too.

No worries though! Swimmer’s ear is easily treated with antibiotic ear drops for a week. The only downside: you can’t go swimming while you are being treated.

Some tips to try and prevent swimmer’s ear:

  • Shake your head after swimming to try to remove as much water as possible.
  • Aim a hairdryer on low setting at your ear to evaporate the excess water.
  • Mix equal amounts of vinegar and rubbing alcohol and put a couple drops in your ears after swimming. Let the drops sit for 3-5 minutes. The alcohol helps the water evaporate and the vinegar keeps the pH of the ear canal balanced.
  • Over the counter drops (exact same thing as the rubbing alcohol-vinegar combo).Enjoy the summer swimming fun and if you use the tips above, then you too can “just keep swimming!”

Fever Seizures

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Eva Alessia, D.O.

Seizures can be very scary for parents. About four out of 100 children ages six months to five years can have seizure because of a fever. The most common age range is 12 to 18 months of age. A seizure can happen at any temperature, but the most common temperature is 104°F. The seizure usually lasts less than a minute, but sometimes can last 10 to 15 minutes and then stop without any treatment.

Forty percent of children who have had a fever seizure may have another one to three fever seizures. It is rare for children to go on to have seizures not caused by fevers. Fever seizures do not cause brain damage.

Signs of a fever seizure are:

  • stiffening of body
  • twitching
  • eye rolling
  • Unresponsive for a moment – the breathing pattern will be “off” and the child may look a little darker in color.

What to do if your child has a fever seizure:
If your child has a fever seizure, lay him/her on the floor, away from hard or sharp objects. Turn his/her head to the side to let saliva or vomit drain more easily. Clear anything in the mouth with your finger to prevent choking. Undress the child and apply cool towels to body. Do not worry about the tongue; your child will not swallow his/her tongue. Call your child’s doctor and if the seizure does not stop after five minutes, call 911.

Even a couple seconds of a seizure can seem like forever, but try not to worry. Your child will be fine afterwards.