When your child is sick in preschool

As a parent or carer, you suffer too when your little one is sick. But how sick is too sick for preschool?

What to do if your child is sick

If your child has the following symptoms then it’s best to consult your doctor and keep your child at home:

  • a fever of 38°C or above
  • vomiting or diarrhoea
  • cough or respiratory symptoms
  • cold or flu symptoms
  • rashes of an unknown origin.

For more information about infectious diseases that may affect your child, contact NSW Health on 02 9391 9000.

Some typical infections

Chicken pox

A slight fever, runny nose and a rash that begins as raised pink spots that blister and scab.


Fever, tiredness, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes for a few days, followed by a red blotchy rash that starts on the face and spreads down the body and lasts 4 to 7 days.


The eye feels scratchy, is red and may water. Eyelids may stick together during sleep.

Impetigo (school sores)

Small red spots that change into blisters that fill with pus and become crusted. Usually on the face, hands or scalp.


Small scaly patch on the skin surrounded by a pink ring.

Hand, foot and mouth

Starts with blisters that begin as small red dots on hands and feet, as well as in or around the mouth.


Vomiting or diarrhoea.

Head lice

Head lice are tiny insects that live among human hairs. Don’t be alarmed if an outbreak occurs. Head lice are not dangerous and are easy to manage. Having head lice is not a reflection on your child’s level of personal hygiene.

Preventing head lice

  • Regularly check your child’s hair.
  • Keep long hair tied back or braided.
  • Keep a fine-toothed comb in the bathroom and encourage your family to use it when they wash their hair.

Treating head lice

  • Daily combing with a white hair conditioner (to help see the lice) using a fine-toothed comb will help get rid of head lice and their eggs (nits).
  • If your child has head lice, let the preschool know so they can ask other families to check their children’s hair. Your child does not have to be identified.

Useful websites

  • NSW Health - visit NSW Health for the latest information common and new infections, and what to do if your child is sick.
  • NSW Multicultural Health Communication Services - explore resources for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds including multilingual health information.


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