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How to Prevent the Spread of Colds

Teaching Your Child Hand Washing Habits To Prevent Colds

When children start preschool, they're exposed to many new things: new kids, new games, new learning experiences. Unfortunately, they're also exposed to lots of new germs. There are at least 200 different cold viruses, according to doctors at the University of Michigan Health System.

Viruses spread directly, when a child sneezes or coughs on another child, or indirectly, when a child coughs or sneezes on her hands and then touches toys or other children. That's why hand-washing is the best way to prevent colds from spreading in a school or daycare center.

Now is the time to teach your child good hand-washing habits. The Centers for Disease Control recommend vigorous scrubbing with warm, soapy water for 15-20 seconds -- about as long as it takes children to sing their ABCs. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also be used to clean hands.

You can also help prevent the spread of colds by talking with the director of your child's school or daycare center to make sure hand-washing is a priority among teachers as well as children.

Hands should be washed before (and after) handling food; after going to the bathroom or changing diapers; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Toys, tabletops, and other surfaces should be disinfected regularly.

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