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Hepatitis A in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Hepatitis A is a virus that can infect the liver. In most cases, the infection goes away on its own and doesn't lead to long-term liver problems. In rare cases, it can be more serious.

The virus is found in stool. It spreads when a person eats food or drinks water that has come in contact with infected stool.

After your child is infected, symptoms may not start for up to 30 days. They may be so mild that you don't notice them. But your child can infect other people both before and after symptoms start. Most people who get the virus feel better within 2 months. Most don't have liver problems later. If your child was exposed to the virus in the past 2 weeks, he or she may have been given a shot. It may prevent an infection.

Hepatitis A can cause tiredness, nausea, and diarrhea. Your child's skin and eyes may look yellow. This is called jaundice. Your child may vomit. This can lead to dehydration (severe loss of water). After your child has had the virus, he or she can't get it again. But your child can still get other forms of the virus.

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 call line 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?

  • Limit your child's activity to match his or her energy.
  • Make sure that the doctor knows all the medicines your child takes. Some medicines, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can make liver problems worse. Do not give your child any new medicines unless the doctor says it is okay.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine.
  • If your child has nausea or vomiting, have him or her try to eat smaller meals more often.
  • Give plenty of fluids, enough so that your child's urine is light yellow or clear like water.
  • If your child has itchy skin, be sure he or she keeps cool, stays out of the sun, and wears cotton clothes. Talk to your child's doctor about using over-the-counter medicines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratadine (Claritin). They can help control the itching. Read and follow the instructions on the label.


  • Be sure your child washes his or her hands with soap and clean, running water right after using the toilet. Hands should also be washed before your child touches or eats food.
  • Tell your child's doctor and dentist about your child's illness. And tell anyone else who may come in contact with your child's blood or stools.
  • If your child is still in diapers, be sure to wash your hands carefully after every diaper change.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child vomits blood or what looks like coffee grounds.
  • Your child is suddenly confused and cannot think clearly.

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

  • Your child is dizzy or light-headed, or you think your child may faint.
  • Your child has signs of needing more fluids. These signs include sunken eyes with few tears, a dry mouth with little or no spit, and little or no urine for 6 hours.
  • Your child has nausea and vomiting that does not go away.

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

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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.