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11 Ways to Stop Your Kid's Sickness From Spreading to the Entire Family

Big Kid Judy Dutton Nov 3, 2014

little boy in the bathroom

Usually, there's no such thing as just one sick family member. If one of your kids comes home with the sniffles or a sore throat, you can expect that the rest of his siblings -- and hey, maybe you and your husband too -- will soon catch the same bug, right? Not necessarily. 

Provided you take a few precautions, you can contain those germs and lower the odds of it being contagious. Try these strategies to do some damage control in your home and keep your family healthy.  

How do you keep your child's sickness from spreading?

stop sickness from spreading

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1Keep The Sick Kid Confined to a Small Area

Why disinfect the whole house top to bottom when you can clean just a few rooms? The latter is possible if you keep your kid sequestered to as few areas as possible, says Meena Chintapalli, MD, a pediatrician in San Antonio, TX at A Thru Z Pediatrics. We're not saying your kid should be banished to his bedroom, but if possible, keep him using just one bathroom rather than using many.

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2Clean the Bathroom Regularly

Keeping a clean restroom can help to keep the family healthy, says Chintapalli. "Even if your child is not vomiting, they will still touch the handle to flush the toilet and turn the nobs to get water to wash their hands," she says.

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3Move Their Toothbrush

"Germs may live inside the toothbrush bristles, so you do not want the infested toothbrush to be near other family member’s brushes," says Lisa Tucciarone, nurse practitioner from Aria Health’s FastCare clinic. "Throughout their sickness wash the toothbrush thoroughly with peroxide, boiling water, or other natural disinfectants to keep the brush sterile. Once they are feeling well, get them a new toothbrush."

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4Don't Share Toothpaste

"Germs that cause sicknesses commonly live in the mouth, so prevent the spread of oral germs by getting your sick child their own travel size toothpaste and disposable bathroom cups," says Tucciarone. Or at least, get disposable bathroom cups and put the dab of toothpaste on the cup and have your sick kid get the toothpaste from there, suggests Lyssa Armenta, a health expert and mom of three.

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5Stock Up On Tissues

Give your sick child their own tissue box, says Tucciarone. "This keeps the sick child from touching the tissue box that the rest of the family may use," she says. Also make sure your kids throw out their tissues immediately after use since these are havens for germs.

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6Do Damage Control on Dishes

Dishes used by your sick kids are crawling with germs. So after putting dishes in the dishwasher from infected person, use a disinfectant wipe to clean the counter and sink area where water from dirty dishes splashed. "Or consider switching disposable paper towels and paper cups for a while to prevent germs from infecting other family members," says Shilpi Agarwal, MD at One Medical Group.

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7Teach Kids to Not Touch Their Faces

"Kids get sick often from touching surfaces with germs and then touching their face -- eyes, nose, mouth -- common entry points for infections," says Tanya Altmann, MD, a pediatrician and spokesperson for Smiling It Forward, a campaign to get health care within reach of every child. "It's tough to teach kids not to touch their face, but it's a good idea to start talking to them about it. Encourage them to wash their hands after playing, after using the bathroom, and before eating meals or snacks."

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8Limit Hugging and Kissing

"Commonly parents and family members want to nurture their sick child by hugging and kissing them," says Tucciarone. Yet as callous as it may seem, this type of comforting should be kept to a minimum since it's a great way to spread germs.

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9Keep Disinfectant Handy at Sinks

"In addition to regular hand soap in the bathroom and kitchen, keep bottles of hand sanitizers in every room to remind everyone to frequently disinfect their hands," says Kevin Ronneberg, MD, a family practice physician at Target Clinics.

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10Change the Sick Kid's Bed Sheets as Often as Possible

"Change pillowcase of the infected person every day," says Armenta. "Changing the sheets is also good if the infected person was coughing/ sneezing on the sheets during the night."

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11Disinfect Commonly Touched Items

"Use disinfectant spray or wipes on anything that gets touched on a regular basis," says Ronneberg. That includes remote controls, doorknobs, light switches, computers, bannisters, refrigerator doors, and faucets. "Many plastic toys can be thrown in the dishwasher, and many stuffed animals in the washing machine," points out Agarwal.

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