Skip to Content

Strep Throat in Children


Strep throat is a throat infection caused by bacteria. It is easily spread from person to person.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child's signs and symptoms continue for more than 5 to 7 days.
  • Your child is tugging at his or her ears or has ear pain.
  • Your child is drooling because he or she cannot swallow their spit.
  • Your child has blue lips or fingernails.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has a rash that is itchy or swollen.
  • Your child's signs and symptoms get worse or do not get better, even after medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


  • Antibiotics treat a bacterial infection. Your child should feel better within 2 to 3 days after antibiotics are started. Give your child his antibiotics until they are gone, unless your child's healthcare provider says to stop them. Your child may return to school 24 hours after he starts antibiotic medicine.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your child's symptoms:

  • Give your child throat lozenges or hard candy to suck on. Lozenges and hard candy can help decrease throat pain. Do not give lozenges or hard candy to children under 4 years.
  • Give your child plenty of liquids. Liquids will help soothe your child's throat. Ask your child's healthcare provider how much liquid to give your child each day. Give your child warm or frozen liquids. Warm liquids include hot chocolate, sweetened tea, or soups. Frozen liquids include ice pops. Do not give your child acidic drinks such as orange juice, grapefruit juice, or lemonade. Acidic drinks can make your child's throat pain worse.
  • Have your child gargle with salt water. If your child can gargle, give him or her ¼ of a teaspoon of salt mixed with 1 cup of warm water. Tell your child to gargle for 10 to 15 seconds. Your child can repeat this up to 4 times each day.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier in your child's bedroom. A cool mist humidifier increases moisture in the air. This may decrease dryness and pain in your child's throat.

Prevent the spread of strep throat:

  • Wash your and your child's hands often. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Do not let your child share food or drinks. Replace your child's toothbrush after he has taken antibiotics for 24 hours.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Strep Throat in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.