Beauty & Confidence

My child’s stuffed up and his nose won’t stop running. Should I keep him home from school?

My child’s stuffed up and his nose won’t stop running. Should I keep him home from school?

If the discharge from your child’s nose is clear and runny, it’s probably a case of the common cold or an allergic reaction. Neither condition requires a sick day -- as long as you take some precautions.

Children can catch viruses easily from one another, so it may seem like a given to keep contagious kids home when they’re under the weather. This may work for a day or two, but most colds last about 10 days from beginning to end -- and you can’t keep kids home from school for that long. The best thing you can do, instead, is to teach your children good health hygiene. Instruct them to use a Puffs basic tissue or their sleeves instead of their hands when they cough or sneeze, immediately dispose of any tissues they might use, and wash their hands frequently and properly -- rubbing hands together with plenty of soap, water and friction for a good amount of time. (I tell them to sing “Happy Birthday” to themselves while they’re scrubbing up.)

Kids who are achy, uncomfortable or very congested may benefit from an over-the-counter painkiller or cold medication. But if you give your kid something in the morning, make the teacher and school nurse aware of it. If your child shows up in my office later feeling miserable but has no fever, I want to know whether that normal temperature could be because he took a fever reducer earlier in the day.

If your child’s cold symptoms last longer than 10 days, I suggest scheduling a doctor’s appointment: Symptoms could be indicative of something more chronic, such as allergies to plants, mold or a pet, for example.

Nasal discharge often turns creamy yellow to yellow-green after a few days of a cold. However, you should keep kids home and call the doctor if that discharge is foul-smelling or a color other than yellow, or if your kid is running a fever -- all of which are possible signs of bacterial infections that may require antibiotics.

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