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What are the incubation periods of some common childhood illnesses?



During cold and flu season, parents ask me questions all the time, about how long should my child stay home, is my child still contagious, can my child come to Sugar Plums? This helpful list of typical childhood illnesses is a guide of different symptoms and how long the incubation periods are. Once your child is 24 hours symptom free, they are welcome back to Sugar Plums.



"There is a lag time between being exposed to an infection and coming down with the disease. This time frame is called the incubation period.

The value of knowing

the incubation periods for common infections is that you can better gauge if you have “dodged a bullet” regarding something you or your child has come in contact with. Here are the incubation periods for some well-known childhood infections."

  • common cold: 1 – 3 days

  • conjunctivitis (“pink eye”): 1 – 3 days

  • croup: 2 – 7 days

  • fifth disease: 4 – 14 days

  • hand/foot/mouth disease: 3 – 6 days

  • herpes (“cold sores”): 2 – 12 days

  • impetigo: 1 – 7 days

  • Influenza: 1 – 4 days

  • molluscum contagiosum: 1 week – 6 months

  • mononucleosis: 4 – 6 weeks

  • pertussis (“whooping cough”): 1 – 2 weeks

  • pinworms: 2 – 6 weeks

  • roseola: 5 – 12 days

  • RSV: 2 – 8 days

  • strep throat: 1 – 3 days

  • viral gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”): 1 – 3 days

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