How long to stay home with strep throat

Understanding Strep Throat

Strep throat is an infection caused by a bacteria that can cause a sore, scratchy throat. It is highly contagious, and it is important to take the necessary steps to prevent spread of the infection.

In order to do that, it is important to understand the nature of strep throat and the best ways to treat it. This section will cover the different aspects of strep throat, from diagnosis to recovery time:

  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Recovery time

What is strep throat?

Strep throat is a type of bacterial infection caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. It is most common in children ages 5 to 15, but can affect people of any age. Strep throat is highly contagious and spreads easily through contact with an infected person or from contaminated surfaces or objects.

Symptoms include a sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes and tenderness on one side of the neck. Other common symptoms include headache, loss of appetite and stomach pain. In some cases, a person may also have small red spots on the roof of the mouth or tiny purple dots on their tongue which are called petechiae.

The most accurate way to diagnose strep throat is with a rapid antigen test or throat swab test conducted by your doctor. Treatment for strep throat usually includes antibiotics taken orally for 10 days as well as over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce symptom relief and fever relief. It’s important to complete your full course of antibiotics even if you start feeling better soon after treatment starts in order to prevent further complications and help reduce the spread of germs while you are still contagious (for between 24-48 hours). People diagnosed with strep throat should stay home until they have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours and do not have a fever anymore.

Symptoms of strep throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and pain in the throat. It’s caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, and it spreads via infected respiratory secretions from person to person. Common symptoms of strep throat include sore throat, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and pain when swallowing.

It can be difficult to distinguish between strep throat and other sore throats caused by viral illnesses such as the common cold, so you should see your doctor for an appropriate diagnosis.

The most reliable way to diagnose strep throat is with a rapid antigen test performed by your healthcare provider. This involves taking a swab from the back of your throat and sending it off for testing. If the results show that you have Group A Strep, then you will likely require antibiotics to treat it. It is important to take all of the prescribed medications to ensure quick recovery and prevent complications or reinfection.

If you do have strep throat you should stay home until at least 24-hours after beginning treatment with antibiotics or until symptoms improve – whichever comes first – otherwise there is risk of spreading infection to others who may also require antibiotics.


Making a proper diagnosis is the first step to treating strep throat and deciding how long to stay home. It is important to see a healthcare provider if you or your child have symptoms of strep throat.

The healthcare provider can take a swab in the throat and test for the bacteria that cause strep throat. Other tests such as a white blood cell count and throat culture can also be done to confirm strep throat.

How is strep throat diagnosed?

Strep throat is usually diagnosed by a rapid strep test or throat culture. The rapid strep test is done by swabbing the back of the throat and tonsils to collect bacteria and then testing it for the presence of Streptococcal antibodies. The throat culture involves collecting a sample, either with cotton swabs or a throat culture medium, and sending it off to a laboratory, where it will be tested under various conditions to identify bacteria species.

If either test comes up positive for group A Streptococcus bacteria then strep diagnosis is positive, and if there are still symptoms after 48 hours, you will need to rest at home for an additional 24 hours after antibiotics are started in order for the condition to completely resolve. If antibiotics are not taken, recurrences of strep throat may occur in 3–4 weeks, so it is important to get treatment right away. It is also important that you finish taking all medications that have been prescribed as directed in order to prevent recurrences.

What tests are used to diagnose strep throat?

Strep throat is most commonly diagnosed by a simple test called a rapid antigen test run on a swab taken from the back of the throat. This test is done using a strip similar to a pregnancy test strip, and the results are usually available within 15 minutes. If the test is positive for strep throat, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help you get better quickly. If the rapid antigen swab test shows no evidence of strep, then additional testing may be done to determine other causes of your symptoms.

Culture tests are more accurate than rapid antigen tests and can positively diagnose strep throat most of the time. These can be run on either throat or nasal secretions, although throat cultures are considered more accurate because they capture samples directly from where infection–causing bacteria typically collect in the body. The sample taken during this type of culture is sent to a lab for analysis so results typically take 2-3 days before you receive them.

Additional tests such as complete blood count (CBC), blood cultures or other imaging tests such as ultrasound or X-rays may be ordered by your doctor if symptoms suggest something other than strep infection, such as mononucleosis or sinusitis, as possible causes of your condition.


Treatment for strep throat is usually antibiotics, which can reduce the amount of time one needs to remain at home. Generally, a physician will advise you to stay home and rest for 24-48 hours after the start of antibiotic treatment. This will help to get rid of the pain and discomfort associated with the condition and help speed up the recovery process.

Let’s take a look at other aspects of treatment for strep throat:

What medications are used to treat strep throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils. It is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria and is contagious. Medications are used to treat strep throat, eliminate bacteria, and reduce its symptoms.

Common antibiotics that your healthcare provider may prescribe you for treatment of strep throat include penicillin, cephalosporin, macrolide (erythromycin), or clindamycin. It is important to note that each of the antibiotics work differently and have different indications. Therefore it is important to discuss with your healthcare provider which antibiotic would be best for you based on your individual medical history.

It is generally recommended to stay home from school or work while you are being treated with antibiotics as well. To prevent spreading the infection to others, practice good hygiene such as washing hands often and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve instead of hands. It’s also recommended to avoid contact sports and limit contact with other people for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics or until 24 hours after the fever subsides (if present). With proper treatment and instructions from your healthcare provider, most cases of strep throat can be cured within two weeks.

How long should I take antibiotics for strep throat?

The standard treatment for strep throat is a round of antibiotics, usually taken for 10 days, which helps kill the bacteria causing the infection. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics, even if you feel better, as discontinuing early can lead to your infection returning or becoming antibiotic-resistant.

Your symptoms should improve within 48 hours of starting antibiotics. You will typically start feeling relief from soreness in your throat and a reduction of fever and other symptoms shortly after beginning treatment. If your symptoms do not improve after 48 hours, contact your doctor to discuss further treatment options and make sure you are taking the prescribed dosage correctly.

It is important that you stay home from school and work while you have strep throat until you have completed 24 hours (at least one full day) of antibiotic treatment. This helps ensure that you do not spread the infection to friends, family members or coworkers.


Strep throat is a contagious infection caused by bacteria called Streptococcus. The most important step to prevent strep throat is to practice good hygiene, like frequent hand-washing. It is also important to stay home if you are feeling sick and practice social distancing when possible.

We will discuss more prevention techniques as well as how long to stay home after testing positive for strep throat:

How can I prevent strep throat?

Preventing strep throat is challenging because the bacteria that cause it can spread easily among family members and other people in close contact. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting or spreading strep throat infection:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often, particularly after coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid sharing glasses and utensils with someone who has had a recent strep throat infection.
  • Don’t share cups or eating utensils with others.
  • Stay away from people who have signs of infection such as fever, sore throat, body aches, and nausea.
  • When you are ill with strep throat, stay home from work or school until you have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours. This will help prevent the spread of the bacteria to coworkers or classroom mates.
  • If you have an infected person in the house, keep their dishes and eating utensils separate from those used by other family members. Wash their dishes separately in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher set to a high temperature cycle.

What are the best practices for avoiding strep throat?

Strep throat is caused by a type of bacteria called streptococcus pyogenes, which thrives in damp and crowded environments. It is spread through contact with an infected person (via contaminated objects, or via close contact between people). To keep yourself safe from strep throat, it is important to practice good hygiene and to follow these best practices:

  1. Wash your hands often: Use warm water and soap whenever possible. If you are unable to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer or wipe them against an Alcohol based solution or an antibacterial wipes.
  2. Avoid crowding and nose picking: Do not share drinks, food, or utensils with others. Also avoid touching your face with unwashed hands as this can transfer bacteria quickly.
  3. Avoid close contact with sick people: If you know someone has strep throat, try to avoid close contact for at least 24 hours after they have started taking antibiotics for it.
  4. Disinfect surfaces regularly: All shared surfaces should be wiped down regularly with disinfectant wipes. Items that are used frequently should be washed by hand or in the washing machine regularly.
  5. Stay home if you feel sick: If you start feeling sick stay home until you get over the illness completely so that you do not spread any germs to other people.
  6. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing: A good way to cover your mouth is by using a tissue when sneezing or coughing so as not spread any germs into the air around you.

When to Return to Work

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat that can cause fever and sore throat, and it can be highly contagious. If you’ve contracted strep throat, it’s important to know when it’s safe to return to work.

Generally, it’s best to wait at least 24 hours after you start antibiotics to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to other people. In this section, we’ll look at when you should stay home and when it is safe to go back to work:

How long should I stay home with strep throat?

If you are diagnosed with strep throat, it is important to stay home and rest until your symptoms have improved. Strep throat is a contagious bacterial infection of the throat, so being around other people can spread infection.

Most healthy adults with strep throat can return to work or school 24 hours after starting an antibiotic for the infection. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for 10 days, but you could be non-contagious within 24 hours of starting treatment. If symptoms last more than 48 hours without improvement, consult a doctor.

Before returning to work or school, make sure you’re symptom-free and feeling better. It’s best to wait at least 24 hours after taking antibiotics before returning to ensure that the symptoms have subsided and the antibiotics have had time to take effect in fighting the infection. During recovery, it is important to stay hydrated by drinking fluids frequently (preferably water) and eating nourishing meals that include fruits and vegetables.

If your symptoms come back after you’ve returned to work or school, it may be because you weren’t completely well when you resumed your activities earlier than recommended; therefore, it is wise to seek medical advice if this happens so that further treatments can be prescribed if necessary. In some cases, a doctor may order another course of antibiotics if there’s concern about an extended bout of strep throat lingering on even with treatment having been taken already.

What are the signs that I’m ready to return to work?

Returning to work after an illness is a difficult decision, so it’s important to take the time to assess your current state of health before returning. Some illnesses, like strep throat, may require a longer period of rest and recuperation, but when you do feel well enough to go back, there are several signs to look out for that you may be ready.

First off, assess your temperature. If you’ve had a fever prior to returning to work, make sure that it has gone away and that it remains low once you return. Additionally, watch for symptoms such as chills or sweats which could indicate a relapse and would warrant another visit or call to your doctor. If a sore throat persists for longer than two weeks or if ear pain develops this could also be indicative of complications from strep throat and should be evaluated by your doctor before returning.

Watch for other signs as well such as general fatigue or lack of energy – these are both indications that even though the infection itself has cleared up you may still need extra time for rest and recovery in order for your body to regain its full strength. Lastly ensure that any other symptoms related to the initial illness have cleared up prior to returning – sneezing, coughing, muscle aches etc. As long as these have gone away and no new symptoms arise then you are likely good-to-go!