Stay home if you have a fever over 100 °F (38 °C). Fever is your body’s natural reaction to an infection or an illness. If you have a high fever, you are most likely contagious and you need to stay home from work or school to avoid spreading your illness to anybody else.
Stay at home until your body temperature gets back to a normal range, which is usually around 98 °F (37 °C), and stays there for 24 hours.
Taking medication to reduce your fever does not make you less contagious.
A high fever is also likely to be accompanied by periods of sweating and chills.
Avoid leaving your home if you have uncontrollable coughing. If you have a cough that you aren’t able to control, or your cough is accompanied by scratchiness in your throat or difficulty breathing, it could be a sign of a respiratory illness. Many of these are highly contagious. Stay home from work or school so you don’t spread anything to the people who are in proximity to you.
Mild coughing frequently occurs due to a cold or allergies. You may also have a stuffy, drippy nose and sneezing. If you feel up to it and no other symptoms are present, you can still go about your daily routine.
Coughing that feels like it comes from deep within your lungs could be a sign of a serious infection, such as pneumonia.
Some viral illnesses, like the flu or COVID-19, also feature coughing as a symptom.
Contact your doctor to see if you should get your cough checked out.
Cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands frequently. This will help prevent you from spreading germs and viruses.
If you have trouble breathing during coughing fits, go to the emergency room to get medical attention.
Keep away from other people if you’re vomiting regularly. Persistent vomiting will dehydrate you and make you feel weak, as well as being a sign that you have a contagious illness. If you’re unable to hold any food down, stay home, rest, and hydrate so you can recover and won’t spread your illness to another person.
Take care of yourself by drinking plenty of liquids. If you can’t keep a glass of water down, you might try sucking on ice cubes to make it easier to keep down.
If you are unable to keep any liquid down and are at risk of becoming severely dehydrated, you may need to go to an emergency room. Symptoms of dehydration include weakness, headaches, infrequent urination, passing dark or cloudy urine, and crying without tears.
Take a sick day if you have morning diarrhea. A very loose or watery stool can often be a sign of infection and the extra water that you lose can dehydrate you. It’s best for you to remain at home near a bathroom, so don’t try to go to work or school until you stop having diarrhea and feel better.
If the diarrhea is caused by food or medication, then it’s not contagious. In this case, if you are well enough to be able to go about your daily routine, you do not need to stay home unless you will not be able to use the toilet when you need it if you go out.
It’s important to replenish your liquids by drinking lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Self-isolate if you have coronavirus symptoms, like a cough and fever. If you think you might have the coronavirus (COVID-19), stay at home unless you need to go out to get medical care. Not only will you need to rest up so you can get better, but it’s also important to avoid spreading the virus to others. You’ll need to stay home for at least 10 days if you are diagnosed with the coronavirus. After that, you can usually safely go out once you’ve been fever-free without medications for at least 24 hours.
Common symptoms of the coronavirus include a fever, coughing, tiredness, body aches, and loss of taste or smell. Some people also experience other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or a rash.
If you suspect you might have the coronavirus, consider getting tested. Call your doctor’s office to find out how to get the COVID-19 test.
If you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, or difficulty speaking or moving, get emergency medical care.
Wait until your doctor says your child can return to school. If your child has an illness or disease that was treated by a doctor, keep them home until your doctor clears them to go back to school or daycare. If your child comes into contact with other children who weren’t vaccinated for a disease or have weakened immune systems, then your child could spread it to them. Additionally, if your child is recovering from cold, flu, or another illness, they could potentially spread it, even if they’re feeling better. Wait until their doctor says it’s safe for them to return.
For some illnesses or conditions, such as scabies, lice, and Fifth Disease, it’s safe to send your child back to school after they start treatment. But always consult their doctor first.
Let your child stay home if they have pink eye. Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, is an infection where the eye becomes red and leaks sticky yellowish-greenish goo. Pink eye is easily treated with over-the-counter creams that you can pick up from your local pharmacy, but it’s highly contagious, so keep your child home to prevent them from spreading it to other children.
Because the eye may be itchy, children often rub their eyes, and then touch other children or shared toys, causing it to spread.
Once your child has begun treatment, they may be able to go back to school once your doctor says they are unlikely to be infectious.
Keep your child at home for 1 day after being treated for impetigo. Impetigo is a common skin infection that affects children and babies and usually appears as red sores around the mouth as well as on the hands and feet. Impetigo isn’t too serious, and can be treated with over-the-counter creams, but it’s highly infections, so keep your child home from school until it clears up.
Once your child is receiving treatment under a doctor’s supervision, it should be okay for them to return to school, unless your doctor advises against it.
The pustules that may form must be covered when your child goes to school.
Allow your child to stay home if they have strep throat. Strep throat is an infection characterized by a sore throat. It’s painful, highly contagious, and can potentially lead to a more serious infection, so don’t send your child to school if they have it. Take your child to your doctor so they can be examined and prescribed antibiotics if they need it.
Your child may feel well enough to go back to school after being on antibiotics for 24 hours.
Check with your doctor to see what they recommend.
Take precautions to prevent spreading a cold to other people. You probably don't need to stay home if you just have a cold. But, even if you feel well enough to go to work or school, there are some simple precautions that you can take to protect others, including:
Washing your hands frequently
Not hugging or shaking hands
Avoiding sharing drinks or food with others
Sneezing or coughing into your elbow instead of your hands
Using tissues if you have a drippy nose
Wearing a mask to prevent spreading infectious droplets to others when you cough or sneeze
Avoid getting too close to people when you are sick. If you must go to work or school when you are sick, you can still minimize the chances that you will infect others by keeping a distance. Many illnesses can be passed to other people simply by coming into contact with you, so maintaining social distancing can help prevent their spread. You can:
Avoid giving hugs. If necessary, you can explain to people that you feel a little unwell and don’t want to infect them. Chances are they will agree that it is best if you stay away.
Don’t lean into people when talking or looking over their shoulder at a computer screen.
Wear a face mask to prevent accidentally breathing, coughing, or sneezing on others.
Minimize the amount of handshaking you do.
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Coughing or sneezing expels mucous, germs, bacteria, and viruses from your nose, mouth, and lungs into the air around you, which can spread your illness to other people. Cover your mouth with a tissue and throw it away afterwards, or sneeze or cough into your elbow, which is much less likely to come in contact with other people and communal surfaces than your hands.
If you cough or sneeze uncontrollably, wear a face mask.
Wipe down communal surfaces that you touch, such as tables, desks, computer keyboards, and doorknobs, with disinfectant wipes.
Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Rinse your hands under running water and lather them up with soap, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails. Rub your hands together vigorously for at least 20 seconds, then rinse off all the soap and germs with clean water. Use a clean towel to dry your hands. Wash your hands before you prepare food, after you use the bathroom, after you blow your nose, after you sneeze or cough, before you touch another person, or anytime you touch a surface.
Washing your hands is the simplest and one of the most effective ways you can prevent the spread of germs, bacteria, and viruses that can make other people sick.
If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead. Coat all surfaces of your hands with the hand sanitizer, then rub your hands together until they feel dry (usually 20-30 seconds).
Go to the doctor if there are signs of a serious infection or complications. Serious infections can be life-threatening and may need to be treated with antibiotics or other medications that are prescribed by a doctor. If you or your child have any of these symptoms, see a doctor:
A bluish tinge to the skin
Unresponsiveness or inability to wake up
Fever for more than 3 days
Fever with a rash
Flu-like symptoms that go away, then come back with a fever and bad cough
Pain in the abdomen or chest
Pressure in the abdomen or chest
Severe head or throat pain
Contact your doctor and stay at home if you have a strange rash. If you have a rash that has open wounds with fluid leaking out or is rapidly spreading, you should call your doctor. Do not go into work or school until your doctor determines that it is not contagious.
Rashes due to allergies are not contagious. If you have the symptoms under control enough that you can think and concentrate, then you can go to work or school.
For mild rashes, you may be able to go to work or school if the rashes are covered. Check with your school nurse or doctor to be sure.
See a doctor if your child has ear pain or fluid draining from their ear. Ear pain or fluid draining out of your child’s ear are signs of a possible infection. Infections can lead to serious issues and possibly hearing loss, so take your child to a doctor to see if they need antibiotics or other treatments.
An ear infection can make it difficult for your child to concentrate or learn, so let them stay home until they feel better.
Bring your child to the doctor immediately if they show signs of hepatitis A. Hepatitis A is a very contagious liver infection that causes nausea, vomiting, pain near the liver, joint pain, dark urine, clay-colored stool, and yellow skin and eyes. If you think your child has hepatitis A, bring them to the doctor immediately.
It can take up to a week or more for your child to start feeling better after being treated for hepatitis A, so let them stay home until they’re ready to return to school.