19 answers

Runny Nose Contagious?

Hello Mommas,

Today I took my almost 20 month old to a story time. While we were there, we encountered a child who had a terrible runny nose. It was literally dripping down her face and her mom didn't seem bothered by it. (clear mucus, btw) I was a little annoyed because my DD is just getting over being sick and I feel as though I have exposed her to another cold. How contagious are runny noses? My DD didn't really have any contact with this child other than being in the same little area. uggh. Am I overreacting? Any info would be helpful! Thanks :)

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It depends what causes the running nose. If she had allergies - then no, you couldn't catch it. Since you said the mucous was clear -- that's generally a sign that there isn't an infection. If the runny nose was caused by a virus, then yes - it would be contagious.

Think of it like an upset stomach -- if you had food poisoning you would not be contagious. On the other hand if you had the flu you would be contagious. A runny nose is a symptom -- you can have a symptom for many reasons, it depends what the reason is on whether or not it's contagious.

2 moms found this helpful

I wouldn't worry too much. Clear mucus usually isn't anything to worry about and usually says the person isn't sick. If you see mucus that is green-yellow in color, that shows signs of an infection. :D Don't worry...as a mother, you have every right to overreact! ;) *hug*

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

It's impossible to answer your question without knowing the cause of the child's runny nose.

It could be allergies which are not contagious. It could be a bacterial infection which may be contagious if the child isn't being treated with antibiotics. It could be viral for which there is no treatment. It could be something completely unrelated without explanation (like being outside on a cold day).

It honestly doesn't bother me to have my kids around other kids who are sick - mostly because of my degree in biology and career in the pharmaceutical industry as I know most of the surfaces we think are "safe" are horribly contaminated.

We have 2 kids - our son is hardly ever sick. He's almost 4 and has had 1 ear infection. Our daughter just turned 2 and is getting ready to have tubes for the 2nd time. She's always sick - different kids, different immunities. They're both in day care and exposed to the same environment. One is just more prone to being sick.

But, the only way our bodies can build immunities to illnesses are to be exposed to them and to develop antibodies (this is how vaccines work).

I hope this information helps you feel a little more comfortable with the situation.

4 moms found this helpful

Hi there.

I know exactly what you are talking about. We are actually on lockdown today because both my kids are sick with colds. I am a strong believer in keeping the extra germs away from other kids. I definitely don't think other parents always behave the same way.

With that being said, it's important to remember that we pick up germs from everything we touch. We need to have some germs to build up a stronger immune system. It's a necessary process. HOWEVER, do see where you are coming from and that would annoy me too. I wouldn't worry too much about your child getting another cold. I think we need to make sure that we are behaving the way we want others to behave. SO, I won't bring my kids to an enclosed play area where they are chewing on toys and spreading more germs and I hope that other parents would also do the same. Unfortunately, we can't control other people... But, we can control the choices we make.

Take care...

4 moms found this helpful

It depends what causes the running nose. If she had allergies - then no, you couldn't catch it. Since you said the mucous was clear -- that's generally a sign that there isn't an infection. If the runny nose was caused by a virus, then yes - it would be contagious.

Think of it like an upset stomach -- if you had food poisoning you would not be contagious. On the other hand if you had the flu you would be contagious. A runny nose is a symptom -- you can have a symptom for many reasons, it depends what the reason is on whether or not it's contagious.

2 moms found this helpful

I know what you are talking about, I'm usually not quite about it though. I used to just stay clear, but if it's bad, I will say something...like I think your child needs a tissue, does he/she have allergies? This gives you some knowledge and also makes mom aware of the issue.
Clear fluid out the nose is not contageous, but if you are concerned call your doctor.

1 mom found this helpful

The first few days of a cold are very contagious and it would be considerate to keep a child home. However, you don't want to teach a child to run and hide every time they have a cold. Once they start school a cold is rarely a good reason to keep them home. So, even though the cold can still be contagious for several days it is probably lesser contagious after the first few, and people do have to go about their business.

The child you saw could have seasonal allergies too. The nose may run the entire season.

Your child might very well benefit from some good vitamins to help her build her immunity and have less bouts of illness. I can make some great suggestions if you like.

Be Well,

P.

1 mom found this helpful

I wouldn't worry too much. Clear mucus usually isn't anything to worry about and usually says the person isn't sick. If you see mucus that is green-yellow in color, that shows signs of an infection. :D Don't worry...as a mother, you have every right to overreact! ;) *hug*

1 mom found this helpful

I would have been very mad & probably left. Some might think it's overreacting but then they don't have to sit up all night with a sick baby. It always bothers me when someone brings an obviously sick baby to a group gathering. So yes, I would say that the baby may have been contagious & I hope that your baby doesn't get sick. Next time, I would just leave. Sometimes I actually ask if their baby is sick & this brings some attention to the fact that they others might actually care about this. Hope your little one is okay.

1 mom found this helpful

If it was clear it could be allergies. My son constantly has a runny nose. Don't assume she wasnt bothered by it. When your child has a runny nose all the time, you tend to not react as fast to it being there. Not that she should have wiped it, but she may just not have noticed yet.
I have been known to also wipe other kids noses too...usually not a perfectr strangers kid, but I have done that too at playgroups. I figure better safe than sorry...

P.S. I always wonder why we all assume our kids get sick only from other kids. When my son gets a cold, people say, "oh well he goes to daycare..." I say, "yeah and he goes to the grocery store, Walmart, Home Depot, the park, etc too!" Those places are FAR worse than anything at daycare!!! We treat kids with runny noses like they have the plaque then we leave and head right over to the grocery store and plop them in a cart...wierd??? I say let them eat dirt!

1 mom found this helpful

While it is definitely icky, usually clear mucous is associated with allergies, not illness. Having had a child (now 20) who had very severe "something"--we still don't know exactly what it was--as a child that made her have a terribly congested nose from about age 4 until her adenoids and tonsils were removed at age 12, I can tell you that there are times when trying to keep up with wiping it away gets overwhelming AND that at some point, it also becomes just "background noise" for the parents and child who have become used to it being a reality. Not that I didn't always try to keep her nose cleaned up, and don't believe this mother should too, but from that perspective, it's entirely possible the mom had run out of tissues by then or something.

Clear mucus is usually a sign of teething or allergies and not contagious. It's the green, thick stuff you want to stay away from!

Another side:

My daughter often has a runny nose. It is disgusting! We try to keep it cleaned up, but until she learns to control the dripping and blow her own nose there are times when her face is just covered in snot. I suppose it looks to others like i don't care - the reality is having a two year old who doesn't want to spend life with a kleenex held to her face all day.

The other thing is, this runny nose is almost never accompanied by any sort of real illness. (Despite the very common runny nose, my daughter has been sick enough to complain or act off only a few days of her life. Other kids that she plays with do not seem to develop the same runny nose, so it does not appear that she is a typhoid-toddler. When other kids get an illness that make them quite sick, and she is exposed to them, she seems to be able to fight it off and not propagate the illness.)

Our doctor is of the opinion that it is the result of the bone structure in her
face that makes her very prone to getting runny noses, more than any underlying illness. Clearly any very light cold causes her to drip when another kid may not exhibit any symptoms externally. We have also considered that it may be the result of some allergies, for which we wouldn't pursue treatment at this age unless it bothered her more. The doctor does not recommend quarantining her when she has this symptom.

In short, i do understand where you are coming from. However, from my view point, my kid could have been that kid at story time, but i still feel like i can take her when she has a runny nose because a) it does not necessarily connote a contagious illness of any note, and b) we would be confined to the home 50% of the year if we didn't. I do my best to keep her clean, and i particularly have her practice good hygiene with hand washing and cough covering.

I know that's a lot of words to answer your question, but I hope that it is a little reassuring. I felt compelled to tell the story so you could see a side where having your toddler out with a runny nose wasn't the sin it might appear at first.

I don't think you need to be too concerned with a drippy clear snot, despite its appearances, because my experience suggests that it looks grosser than it actually is. Still, your best defense is to teach your child to practice good hygiene herself - washing hands every time you get home, before you eat, etc

One of my nephews (my brother's second of three) has had a clear runny nose almost constantly since he was born. Not sure if it is allergies or what, but he would have it even when he wasn't sick. If the child wasn't coughing all over your child then I wouldn't worry about it.

Every disease a child gets starts as a runny nose. Many children are not vaccinated and so the "runny nose" is actually a mild case of chicken pox, or measles, or rubella that never shows up as the disease.
I had very few vaccinations growing up. Tetanus and Small Pox when there was a scare.
Your child is developing his /her immune system. If you give something for everything it won't develop. A well cared for child fed a balanced organic diet does not get sick often.
A child who eats microwaved food, pesticide grown food, hybridized vegetables that grow without seeds forming, processed foods and GMO foods will NEVER be healthy.
What you put into your body before age 18 is more important than all the good eating you might do afterward.
My daughter had one antibiotic after another when she started childcare. I finally said no and our pediatrician said he would not be responsible for her if I didn't give it to her. I filled the prescription and left it in the refrigerator. After that she did not have colds or sore throats again. We just toughed it out. She even had mumps for four days very mildly. After that we began to use alternative medicine and our family remained well and physically strong.

my friend's baby had drippy down snot the other night and she kept sticking her hands in my mouth, and I didnt get sick.

CHances are you are ok. Clear runny noses can be allergies or the beginning of a cold. But not having any direct contact should mean she didn't contract it. If the child was coughing I would be more concerned and would start boosting vitamin D and other immune building defenses before the cold kicked in to reduce the severity.

Personally I feel a parent should take their sick kids to children's activities. It is inconsiderate to other parents and children and it also puts their own children at risk as they have a weakened immune system and can pick up a worse illness.

But, being at a story time, it could be allergies. There are dust mites wherever there are books and it may have started a mild reaction causing his nose to run that the mom didn't even notice yet, especially if she was sitting behind him.

Good old soap and water is the best remedy for preventing colds. Make sure your daughter washes her hands thoroughly after play groups and she won't carry a bunch of germs around that are likely to end up in her eyes or mouth.

Babies get sick all the time. They will have one virus after the other. I have my third child and it seems like she is sick with one cold after the other. They are building up strong immune systems at this time in their lives. If they are quarantined, they will never build up any immunity! Don't worry so much!

It could just be allergies and nothing to worry about for your kiddo.

Otherwise, just chalk it up as a childhood experience. Colds happen, they're unpleasant, but they're a part of life.

Hi,

I completely understand how annoying it can be when you see other kids walking around when you're in a group of children when they obviously have symptoms like this. However, last time I was talking to my doctor about a similar situation, and he said that 1. clear mucus isn't the stuff you have to worry about and 2. by the time kids are showing cold symptoms, they are not even contagious anymore -they are much more contagious during the incubation period that happens right when they are infected. So, as nasty as it looks, sometimes we just have to turn the other way and make sure the kids wash up good when we get home for our own peace of mind. Don't worry about feeling like you're overreacting - it's much better than not reacting at all :)

S.

It is totally unrealistic to expect moms to keep their kids at home every time they have a runny nose. My son has allergies and asthma, so not only does he get tons of colds, but he frequently has runny noses from allergies as well. The average child gets about 10 colds a year, and each one lasts for 10 days. That is 100 days a year that the child is confined to the house (not to mention the confinement for the other illnesses he will get that year).

The only way your daughter could get this other child's cold germs would be by getting his snot in her mouth. That means the other child touches his snot, wipes it on his hand, etc, and then touches some object. Your daughter then touches the same object and then puts her hands in her mouth. The best way to prevent your daughter getting infected is to sanitize her hands often and teach her not to touch her face.

Keep in mind that as annoying as colds are, your daughter getting colds while she is young will strengthen her immune system, kinda like giving it exercise. If you prevent her from getting cold and keep her in a germ free environment with everything sanitized, you set her up for having a weak immune system.

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