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Strep Throat in Children: Care Instructions

Open mouth, showing throat, tonsils, tongue, and teeth

Your Care Instructions

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes a sudden, severe sore throat. Antibiotics are used to treat strep throat and prevent rare but serious complications. Your child should feel better in a few days.

Your child can spread strep throat to others until 24 hours after he or she starts taking antibiotics. Keep your child out of school or daycare until 1 full day after he or she starts taking antibiotics.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give your child antibiotics as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Keep your child at home and away from other people for 24 hours after starting the antibiotics. Wash your hands and your child's hands often. Keep drinking glasses and eating utensils separate, and wash these items well in hot, soapy water.
  • Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever or pain. Do not use ibuprofen if your child is less than 6 months old unless the doctor gave you instructions to use it. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Have your child drink lots of water and other clear liquids. Frozen ice treats, ice cream, and sherbet also can make your child's throat feel better.
  • Soft foods, such as scrambled eggs and gelatin dessert, may be easier for your child to eat.
  • Make sure your child gets lots of rest.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Smoke irritates the throat.
  • Place a cool-mist humidifier by your child's bed or close to your child. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • Your child has any trouble breathing.
  • Your child's fever gets worse.
  • Your child cannot swallow or cannot drink enough because of throat pain.
  • Your child coughs up coloured or bloody mucus.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child's fever returns after several days of having a normal temperature.
  • Your child has any new symptoms, such as a rash, joint pain, an earache, vomiting, or nausea.
  • Your child is not getting better after 2 days of antibiotics.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.