Is My Kid Contagious?

Wondering whether you need to quarantine your child when she has a cold, an ear infection, pinkeye, or another common childhood illness? Read on to find out what precautions you should take and how long these conditions are contagious, if at all.

Cold (Upper Respiratory Infection)

Avoiding Germs

Frank Heckers

According tot he American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the average young child between 1 and 3 years of age may get up to 12 colds a year. Telltale signs: a cough or a runny or stuffy nose.

Treatment Keep your child comfy until the cold runs its course. Give him nasal saline drops, run a cool-mist humidifier in his room, and suction his nostrils at least once a day. Because colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics are ineffective, and the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't advise administering cough and cold meds to children under the age of six.

Contagious factor When your child is feeling his worst (days three through five), he's most contagious. But symptoms can last for up to two weeks, and he's contagious as long as he's sick. Of course, you can't quarantine him for days. So wash your hands frequently after touching him, and keep him away from other kids during the cold's peak. And if the snot is green versus yellow? It doesn't matter. All colds are contagious regardless of mucus color.

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