When to Keep Your Sick Child at Home


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January is a common time for the spread of infectious disease. You can help prevent spreading illness by using good hand-washing practices and keeping your sick child home from school or day care until he or she is no longer contagious.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should be kept home when they have: 

  • Diarrhea or stools that contain blood or mucus.
  • An illness that caused vomiting two or more times during the previous 24 hours.
  • Mouth sores with drooling, unless the drooling is caused by a noncontagious condition.
  • Impetigo, a skin infection involving erupting sores, until 24 hours after treatment has been started.
  • Scabies, an itchy skin condition caused by mites, until after treatment has been given.
  • Other conditions that suggest the possible presence of a more serious illness, including a fever, sluggishness, persistent crying, irritability or difficulty breathing.

Even after taking preventive measures, it’s likely that some infections will be spread at school or day care centers. For many of these infections, a child is contagious a day or longer before the symptoms appear. 

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer in Chapel Hill.

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