Managing winter infections
An infection refers to any illness that happens because of bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.
They are often harmless, but some can be harmful. When harmful germs get in your system, they can make you feel poorly. Some common infectious illnesses include cold and flu.1
Infections are contagious, which mean they can spread from person to person.1
Infections can spread through the air in water droplets from people’s breath, sneezes or coughs.
They can also be spread by someone coming into contact with an infected area, like touching an infected cut on someone’s skin.1
That is why it is important for your child to learn good hygiene especially when they are ill and around people with an infection.
To avoid your child getting an infection, you should:
Your child can protect others from infection by covering their mouth and nose when they cough or sneeze with a tissue. The tissue should be thrown in the bin after it has been used. If they don’t have a tissue, they can cough or sneeze into their elbow crease to avoid their hands coming into contact with the infection.2
There are some people who are more likely to get infections than others. These people are sometimes described as vulnerable.
These people include:
If your child is unwell and you know someone who is vulnerable, you should keep your child away from them until they are better.
It can be easy for infections to spread in school, so it is important your child knows how to have good personal hygiene.
It is also important that your child is up to date with their vaccines to make sure they are protected against common infections such as chickenpox and flu. This will help stop them from getting some infectious illnesses.
A full list of vaccines your child should get as they grow up can be found on the NHS website.
Sometimes, you or someone you live with may be eligible for a free flu vaccine, you can check on the NHS website.
Your child should attend school if:
If your child has a temperature, has diarrhoea or vomiting or feels unwell, they should avoid school until their symptoms have improved.
If your child has diarrhoea and vomiting, they should wait 2 days after their symptoms have stopped before going back to school.4,5
The NHS has a full list of conditions children can and cannot go to school with here.
Can you help us improve our health information?
We want our health information to be as useful as possible. That's why we're looking to you for feedback.
If you're interested in helping, email us at email@example.com.
Visit your nearest pharmacy
Get support and advice from your local Well pharmacist
- What infections are, how they are transmitted and those at higher risk of infection. GOV.UK. Accessed August 14, 2023. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-protection-in-schools-and-other-childcare-facilities/what-infections-are-how-they-are-transmitted-and-those-at-higher-risk-of-infection
- Preventing and controlling infections. GOV.UK. Accessed August 10, 2023. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-protection-in-schools-and-other-childcare-facilities/preventing-and-controlling-infections
- How to stay well in winter. nhs.uk. Published January 18, 2022. Accessed August 14, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/keep-warm-keep-well/
- Winter illness. Accessed August 14, 2023. https://www.nhsinform.scot/winter-illness
- Diarrhoea and vomiting. nhs.uk. Published April 16, 2018. Accessed July 6, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diarrhoea-and-vomiting/
Published September 2023
Next review: September 2026
Reviewer: Mital Thakrar