Prevention of Croup

Because most cases of croup develop from a cold or flu virus, one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk for croup is to teach children to wash their hands frequently throughout the day. Hand washing can help prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses that can lead to croup.

Teach children the proper technique for hand washing:

  • Use soap and warm water.
  • Rub hands together for 15–20 seconds (about the time it takes to say the alphabet or sing "Happy Birthday").
  • Make sure to wash the backs of hands, wrists, between fingers, and under fingernails.
  • Rinse and dry the hands with a clean towel.

Help children get in the habit of washing their hands before eating, after going to the bathroom, after sneezing or coughing into their hands, and after playing outside or with pets.

Other ways to prevent the spread of viruses that can lead to croup include avoiding contact with other children and adults who are sick and eliminating the child's exposure to smoke, dust, and other respiratory irritants and allergens.

Vaccination also can reduce a child's risk for developing croup. These vaccines (immunizations) include the following:

  • Diphtheria (part of DTaP, DT, and Td vaccines)
  • Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib vaccine)
  • Measles (part of MMR, MR, and measles vaccines)

Speak with your child's physician if you have any questions about these vaccines.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015