8 contagious illnesses junior may catch in preschool [Infographic]

Your child will likely catch more bugs in his first year at preschool than ever again… Look out for these common ailments.

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It’s wonderful to see your tyke enjoy preschool and the company of his little friends.

However, whenever a bunch of children gather in close proximity, you can expect a higher chance that some form of infection will be spreading among them.

In fact, no matter how vigilant the preschool is about hygiene, the fact is that toddlers are masters at wiping their noses, coughing or sneezing while handling toys, and touching other children.

Plus, kids will get sick very often in their early years, as their bodies are still building immunity to the different viruses.

The fact is that toddlers are masters at wiping their noses, coughing or sneezing while handling toys, and touching other children.

Junior may come home with a stuffy nose one day, low-grade fever, and even an unusual rash. It’s always important to take note of the symptoms, so that you can get an accurate diagnosis. Also, find out the incubation and infectious period, in order to take the necessary steps to control the spread of the infection ― whether it’s to his classmates, or other family members.

We’ve rounded up essential information about eight common contagious illnesses ― the common cold, chickenpox, HFMD, pink eye, stomach flu, roseola, ringworm and lice ― that you may have to deal with in your child’s preschool years.

Infographic: Rachel Lim


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Once you’ve recognised the signs and symptoms of the illness, you’ll need to know how the virus is transmitted, so that you can take steps to prevent and control its spread. Here’s a guide:

1. Common cold
Prevent the spread of germs by washing your hands, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that come into constant contact with people (like the remote control or table top), and teach your tot to cover his mouth with a tissue when he sneezes. As much as possible, separate those ailing from the healthy folks.

2. Chickenpox
This virus is spread by direct contact with blisters, sneezing and coughing. Isolate the infected child as much as possible, until the lesions have crusted. If your child has not had chickenpox but has been exposed to someone with the disease, he would be considered infectious from 10 to 21 days following the exposure.

If your child has not had chickenpox but has been exposed to someone with the disease, he would be considered infectious from 10 to 21 days following the exposure.

3. Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
HFMD is spread by direct contact with the nasal discharge, saliva, faeces, as well as fluids from an infected person’s rash. A child infected with HFMD should stay away from school ― in Singapore, he is required to undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine. He can return to school when the doctor gives the go-ahead. Take preventive measures such as washing hands properly, not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact and sharing of utensils and food.

4. Sore eyes/Pink eye (Conjunctivitis)

Bacterial conjunctivitis is spread through contaminated hands following direct hand-to-eye contact. Viral conjunctivitis can be spread by contact with saliva and mucus through coughing and sneezing. Avoid passing this infection to another person by not touching your eyes, and by washing your hands properly and regularly.

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5. Stomach flu (Gastroenteritis)

Your child should be drinking enough fluids to prevent dehydration when he has stomach flu. In the meantime, practise proper hand hygiene, don’t share food, wash your child’s clothing and bedding thoroughly, and clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces and toys.

6. Roseola
Prevent the infected child from coming into close contact with others, especially when he is having the fever. Once the fever subsides, he can return to preschool, as the rash isn’t contagious.

Antifungal medicine can treat ringworm, but you should also disinfect the child’s clothes, bedding, toys and living space.

7. Ringworm
Ringworm is spread by direct contact with infected people, or even animals. You can even get it indirectly when you come into contact with contaminated combs, towels or bedding. Antifungal medicine can treat ringworm, and you should also disinfect your child’s clothes, bedding, toys and living space.

8. Lice
If there is an outbreak of lice in your child’s preschool, makes sure he avoids head-to-head contact, especially during playground time or other close-contact activities. Avoid sharing combs and brushes, and wash any bedding, clothes, stuffed animals, or headgear in hot water.

Photo and illustrations: iStock

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