Fighting a daycare illness? You need an ally

Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner

Time saver 3 min read

From colds and coughs to skin infections and conditions you frankly didn’t even know existed – daycare centers are magnets for illness. And as kids crowd the same spaces, touch the same toys and eat at the same tables, germs are shared freely and widely. So how do you know when it’s more than just a runny nose? Here’s an overview of four common daycare illnesses and what to do about them.

Common daycare illnesses

A day at daycare can end with more than just your run-of-the-mill tantrum. When your child seems out of sorts and under-the-weather, one of these common conditions could be the cause.

Hand foot and mouth disease

Hand foot and mouth disease is a viral infection that spreads easily through coughs, sneezes and contaminated surfaces like toys, doorknobs, high fives — you name it.

Hand foot and mouth disease symptoms

  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Sores in mouth
  • Skin rash and blisters, especially on the hands and feet

Pink eye

Notice that your child is constantly rubbing a pinkish and swollen-looking eye? There’s a good chance it’s pink eye (conjunctivitis) — a common eye infection that’s relatively harmless but can be really uncomfortable. Pink eye can be caused by a virus, bacteria or even allergies.

Pink eye symptoms

  • Red or pink coloring in white of eye(s)
  • Tearing and crusting around affected eye(s)
  • Mild irritation and swelling around the eye(s)


Impetigo is another highly contagious skin infection that can look pretty alarming. Impetigo can develop when strep or staph bacteria enters the body through a cut or scratch, causing skin sores to concentrate around the nose, mouth and sometimes other parts of the body.

Impetigo symptoms

  • Red sores or blisters
  • Clear fluid or pus
  • Crusty honey-colored scabs

The common cold

Colds are an upper respiratory infection that can be caused by more than 200 viruses, the most common being the rhinovirus. Kids catch colds through respiratory droplets that travel through the air when someone who’s infected sneezes, coughs or talks. The virus also spreads by touching contaminated surfaces like toys and books. Unlike the flu, which hits hard and suddenly, colds tend to come on gradually and last anywhere from 7 to 10 days.

Common cold symptoms

  • Mild cough
  • Sore throat
  • Upper respiratory congestion

Combating daycare illnesses

When fevers, colds and coughs happen, there are plenty of home remedies that can help relieve your child’s symptoms.

  • Make sure your child drinks lots of water and stays well hydrated
  • Run a cool mist humidifier in their room
  • Help your child use a saline nasal spray

Daycare illnesses spread super easily. That’s why it’s so important to teach your child good hygiene habits. Remind kids to practice the following healthy habits.

  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the crook of their arm
  • Use tissues (not their hands or sleeve!) to wipe and blow their nose
  • Wash and dry their hands well throughout the day

It’s also important to understand the steps your daycare provider takes to keep kids healthy and safe. What types of illness mitigation policies and safe hygiene practices do they have in place? How often do they sanitize surfaces and clean common areas? Do they run air filters in each room?

A positive note for parents

Exposure to germs and viruses strengthens the immune system. Plus, research shows that kids who attend daycare – and are exposed to a plethora of germs – are less prone to illness during their early elementary years.

– Theresa H., CNP for Virtuwell

Online care for kids

When kids are under siege from germs, keeping daycare illnesses at bay is no easy task. Online care is a fast and convenient option. Parents can get a diagnosis, treatment plan and tips to help little ones feel more like themselves — all without leaving home.

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