You’ve got the play date all planned. Your kid knows about it. Everyone is excited. Then, the morning of the big event, your child wakes up with a cold or still hasn’t shaken the one she’s had for a few days. What do you do? Cancel the play date or let her go?
Let’s be honest, most of us have slipped Tylenol to our kids and sent them to daycare because we didn’t feel we had a choice. We simply had to be at work. Or we have wanted to avoid the meltdown, so we sent them on the play date, even when they had a cold.
Here’s the problem with this practice—in my experience as an emergency room physician, I can tell you that I spend a lot of time writing notes for parents who need to get off work to stay home with their sick children. I’ve seen the anxiety parents go through because their inability to go to work can impact their financial health.
Here’s a quick overview to help you determine whether you should keep your child at home or take them over to a friend’s house.
The Common Cold
Kids pass each other colds all the time. And they’ll probably pass them to you, too. Catching colds will help your children build their immune systems. However, before you set up that play date when your child has a cold, it’s a good idea to ask the other parent how they feel about it. Some parents don’t care if their kids get a cold. Other parents are more anxious.
The good news is you can’t catch an ear infection. The bad news is they typically come from a cold that brought on the infection.
Influenza is unbelievably contagious. It is usually a cause for concern during the colder months, but there’s a late-season strain going around this year. The best thing to do with the flu is to keep your child home. Hopefully, you’ve had your flu shot, so you don’t get it, too.
It’s unlikely your child will give someone else strep throat if they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours and they no longer have a fever or feel sick. If they wash their hands a lot, that will also help them avoid spreading it.
Pink eye is an extremely contagious virus. Even though daycares usually say you can go back to school after 24 hours of antibiotics, your child will still be contagious if they have any of the signs of pink eye—because most of the time it’s caused by a virus and can’t be treated with antibiotics.
The best way to prevent spreading the viruses and bacteria that result in illness, is to teach your children good hygiene. Show them how to wash their hands for 30 seconds by telling them to sing the ABCs while they wash their hands. Depending on the age of the child, this will be a tough one to implement. If that is the case, you can also teach them to use alcohol gel to kill germs on their hands.
If your child has siblings, teach them not to share food or drinks. Implementing these practices in place at home help them bring these good habits to school.
The Urgency Room (UR) is a state-of-the-art medical facility specializing in the treatment of acute injuries and illnesses in adults, children, and infants. Staffed with board-certified emergency physicians, the UR is prepared to handle it all. If you need immediate medical attention and don’t need an ambulance come to The Urgency Room.