Ask Dr. Marla: Sniffles and Daycare

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How sick does my two-year-old need to be to be kept home from daycare? Is it OK to send her with the sniffles?


Young children overcome as many as 10 to 15 common infectious diseases a year. As children get older, their immune system builds up antibodies and the frequency of these infections decrease. The length of time a child should stay home depends on the period of time that your child is contagious and therefore can spread the disease to others. The chart below gives you a basic idea of how long different illnesses affect children’s school or daycare attendance, but always ask your healthcare provider when your child can return to school.

Infection It’s Contagious… Stay Home Until…
Viral cold when nose starts to run fever is gone, minimum 12 hours
Sore throat (viral) before symptoms appear fever is gone
Sore throat (bacterial) with onset of symptoms on antibiotic for 24 hours
Chickenpox up to five days before rash appears sores have crusted over (5 to 7 days)
Pink eye when eyelids tear, discharge or matte no more discharge (3 to 7 days)

Published in November 2010.

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