We all have days of wanting to be absent from work or school, like when one just wants “me time” and burned out for a particular day, just want a day off just to rest, or have another personal activity and the boss just won’t let you take a leave. Easiest excuse? Playing ill. But it takes a bit of skill on how to fake being sick for work.

How To Fake Being Sick For Work The Right Way

1. Do Your Research On What Illness To Choose.

If you need your excuse to sound believable, you need to know all the symptoms that go with your “health condition”. That way you can get into character especially if you have to “prepare ahead” and drop hints of early symptoms and tell-tale signs.

Research on being sick is also important to know what kind of illness to fake depending on how long you plan your absence from work.  There are illnesses that can take only one day, (such as diarrhea or a migraine), several days (such as flu), or even a couple of weeks (such as chickenpox). You can’t have flu one day then go back to work or school tomorrow!

Common Reasons for Being Sick For One Day

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Asthma Attacks
  • Dysmenorrhea or Premenstrual Syndrome

Common Reasons for Being Sick For A Few Days

  • Diarrhea
  • Migraine
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Flu / Cough & Colds
  • Eye Infections
  • Allergies
  • Viral Fevers

Being Sick For A Few Weeks

  • Chickenpox
  • Physical Injuries / Home Accidents
  • For the “pregnant” employee, delicate spotting that needs bed rest

Of these, the 2 most classic are the more common diarrhea and migraine. These are usually self-limiting, and doctors have no practical way of checking them.  Keep in mind though that schools/offices require a medical certificate or physician’s forms when the sick leave takes more than two days. A signature slip might just not be enough for school

2. Start acting out the symptoms the day before as necessary.

Keep these symptoms in mind the whole time. Better yet, start acting out towards the end part of the day before, so you do not have to keep track of your symptoms all throughout the day.

Another smart reason not to start it early on is the boss might send you to the office clinic or your office’s accredited hospital if your office has one. You don’t want to get busted even before your sick leave happens, do you? Don’t overdo the symptoms, though, and even pretend you are in denial of your illness and want to continue to work.

3. Manifest unusual behavior.

Do things that you would not normally do such as isolating yourself, or not eating much. Pretend to have a low mood. Do not socialize much with the other coworkers, and act like you don’t have an appetite. if you cannot keep from eating a full meal, then have something before lunch so that coworkers will see that you aren’t eating much during lunch time.

Have more trips to the restroom than usual.

4.  Appear more sluggish than usual.

Behave like you are less attentive to your usual tasks at work or school. In doing so, the boss will take notice and initiate asking what is wrong. This will give you an easier lead to take a sick leave.

5. Fake something with less outward symptoms.

If you are poor in getting in-character and sustaining the manifestation of symptoms, choose to fake something that does not have outward signs such as headaches, stomach upset, diarrhea.

6. Think of an excuse that requires urgent attention.

If you want something of an urgent excuse so that your boss will easily let you go for days, think of something contagious. He or she will not want a whole lot of absences in his office.

7. Have a believable post-sick leave follow thru.

 After you return to work/school, keep a bit of the “symptoms” intact to make it look real.  Don’t pop in back to work feeling fully alright and cheerful.

How To Fake a Cold or Flu

You do not have to have all of these but it helps to know these are the most common cold symptoms [1]:

  • Runny Nose
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Watery Eyes

Now to fake these symptoms, here are some ways:

  1. You can’t fake a runny nose, but you can pretend to have one. Have a box of tissue as your props. Breathe through your mouth so that you sound like you have a stuffy nose. For some, eating something spicy can start a runny nose.
  2. Sneeze or cough occasionally, though do not overdo it. Sniffing pepper can make you sneeze if you really want to make your colds seem real.
  3. Make your eyes look watery with petroleum jelly or an organic oil (such as castor oil); organic so that it won’t irritate your eyes even when you apply it so closely. If you want to irritate your eyes though to make it red, a bit of salt on water or toothpaste can irritate your eyes red.

How To Fake a Fever

  1. You can tamper with your thermometer in many ways. But be careful with some techniques [2]:

Bring your thermometer to something warm like a light bulb, or a hot cup of water. You have to watch it though because it can get unusually high so easily.

Faking a fever though can easily be checked, so you might want to try other ways of how to fake being sick for work. Also, if you pretend to run too high a fever, your parents might take you to the hospital as an emergency case, so do not let your thermometer read a very high temperature.

Drink something as hot as you can tolerate just before putting the thermometer into your mouth.

  1. Make your face red by a hot water bottle, or a very warm compress. You can also expose yourself to the sun or if you blush easily, a short rigorous exercise will do it. Another trick to get your face red is by using a blower over your face. You can also run hot water in the bathroom sink and bring your face close to the sink bowl once it gets very hot.
  2. Some makeup will help make you look pale, especially using a pale foundation or concealer on your lips. You can also make yourself red on the nose, around the eyes, forehead to look ill.

How To Fake A Vomit

Aside from the common vision of holding your stomach, holding your hand over your mouth and running to the bathroom, you want to make it look more authentic, right? Use oatmeal or chili as your vomit props to make it look real.

Make it appear you are dizzy and that you are taking some time to rest your head on the desk occasionally.

Some Tips When Pretending To Be Sick

  1. Get into character the whole time. Let’s say your boss called you and you pulled through. Then you get a call from an unfamiliar number and you act normal. Could be your boss trying to catch you.
  2. Some ultra-nosey bosses will even ask for a Skype call pretending that they need something from you. All throughout, make yourself look sick; wrap yourself with thick clothing, make yourself look sick by faking a fever. Before he or she gets too nosey, tell your boss you need to see your doctor and can’t stay long.
  3. Making an excuse of being sick with something contagious is considered urgent and will keep your nosey boss away and let you take time off without making it difficult for you.
  4. If you are going on a vacation on a beach, please for heaven’s sake, make sure you do not get a tan! Neither should you post anything about it on social media, like pictures of your vacation on FB. It may be a no-brainer but someone actually got in deep trouble because she posted about her faking sick and her boss found out.
  5. Try to be discreet about your sick day; don’t be seen in public places like malls.
  6. Do not tell anyone, not even your seemingly friendly coworkers. You may be friends with them but what if he/she tells it to other coworkers who aren’t quite friendly with you?
  7. If you have a habit of calling in sick, take note of your reasons. Chickenpox happens only once, extremely rare a second time, so you cannot use that again.

Some Gentle Reminders:

Don’t overdo the symptoms outlined here; overdoing it can backfire and you would get busted.

While everyone goes through that and we want a day off from work or school at one time or another, it is not wise to abuse making excuses.  Like the boy who cried wolf, your boss/parents might not believe you anymore the next time around. And it will get harder the next time to report sick for work or school, whether or not it is real. School or work is precious and we should all have that level of responsibility.

Remember to clear your browsing history after reading this! As an employee, you might want to read on how to fake being sick from your personal phone or computer and not the office computer.

You also might want to check out this page.


  1. “Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others”CDC. 6 October 2015. Archived from the original on 5 February 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  2. Longo, Dan L.; Fauci, Anthony; Kasper, Dennis; Hauser, Stephen; Jameson, J.; Loscalzo, Joseph (2011). Harrison’s principles of internal medicine (18 ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 4012. ISBN 978-0-07-174889-6.