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Children's doctor

Bacterial Infections

The most common bacterial infections among children are skin, ear, and throat infections. Bacterial infections are more common among very young children because they are exposed so often to and in such close contact with other young children. At the preschool age and even slightly older, children typically do not take the proper health precautions such as covering their mouth when sneezing, which encourages the spread of bacteria from child to child.

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  • Bacterial infections can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria that caused the infection. (Be sure your child finishes the full course of antibiotics to ensure a complete recovery from the infection and reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance.)

  • Over-the-counter medications do not treat the infection; they are intended only to alleviate unpleasant symptoms and can be a good choice for relief until you are able to get a prescription from your doctor

  • Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should never be used on children younger than the age of 6


  • Make sure to wash your hands and your child’s hands with soap and water before eating and after using the restroom

  • Pack a travel-sized antibacterial hand sanitizer in your child’s book bag

  • Clean open cuts or scrapes with soap and water

  • Teach your child to always cover his or her mouth when coughing or sneezing

  • Keep your child home from school when they are ill or running a fever for one or two days, if possible to prevent the spread of illness

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Contact your doctor or seek emergency care if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Has not urinated for 8 hours

  • A high fever (that is not improving after 48 hours)

  • Temperature is 102°F or higher for more than one day

  • Is under 6 months of age and has a fever

  • Persistent vomiting and diarrhea

  • Lethargic

  • Stiff neck

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