Childhood illnesses and diseases are something every parent has to deal with from time to time.
But rest assured that many illnesses are very common and can be treated successfully at home.
We’ve put together this guide to childhood illnesses and their signs and symptoms to help you identify what’s up and how to treat your child.
Common childhood illnesses include chickenpox. One of the first signs is itchy red spots. Over the course of the illness, the spots develop a blister that crusts over. The crust will eventually drop off. Other symptoms include feeling unwell, a runny nose and a fever.
For many children, chickenpox can be treated at home. Give them plenty to drink and offer paracetamol. You can gently dab your child’s skin with calamine lotion to soothe the itching. You can also try cooling patches for discomfort and fever.
Chickenpox is very infectious. You must be careful to practise scrupulous hygiene and keep your child away from pregnant women, as the virus can cause miscarriage or complications.
Chickenpox can sometimes be severe. If your child experiences chest pain, difficulty breathing or is not getting better, consult a doctor immediately.
Most children suffer from an ear infection at some point, particularly after a cold. You may notice your child pulling at their ear or generally feeling unwell and crying.
Often the best way to treat ear infections is simply to give your child pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and leave the affected ear alone. Don’t put ear drops or cotton buds into the ear unless a doctor has advised you to.
But consult your doctor if your child is very young or doesn’t seem to be making progress. They may be offered a short course of antibiotics if there’s a chance they have a bacterial infection.
Thankfully, childhood illnesses with fever are mostly short-lived and there are several things you can do at home to help.
Firstly, it’s important to know exactly what a fever is. It’s the body’s way of fighting off an infection and is when a child’s temperature reaches 38 degrees Celsius or more.
Here’s what you can do to help your child with a fever:
- Track their temperature with a thermometer – stick on temperature indicators are a child-friendly way to do this.
- Put them in light clothing.
- Offer them lots of fluids to drink.
- Sponge them down with tepid water or use cooling patches to make them feel more comfortable.
- Give them paracetamol to relieve symptoms.
See a doctor straight away if you are worried about your child or they show any of these signs:
- Difficulty breathing
- A “febrile convulsion” or fit
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- A bulging fontanelle (the soft spot on a baby’s head)
Coughs and colds
It’s normal for young children to have several colds a year as they build up immunity. Because colds are viral, antibiotic medicines won’t help them. But the good news is that colds only tend to last for five to seven days.
Here’s what you can do to make it easier for them:
- Give them extra fluids to drink.
- Offer nose drops to relieve congestion.
- Give paracetamol if they have a fever.
A cough can often follow a cold. It will normally get better on its own, but see a doctor if your child has any of these signs:
- A cough lasting longer than two weeks
- Difficulty breathing
- A high temperature
Diarrhoea and vomiting
Diarrhoea and vomiting can be caused by:
- A virus
- Food poisoning
- An allergy
- A tummy bug
If your child has diarrhoea and vomiting, they may also be tired and thirsty. Let them rest and give them plenty of fluids. Keep their bottom clean, and take care to wash your hands frequently.
You must take your child to the doctor if they don’t get better after a couple of days, if they have bad tummy pain or if they become dehydrated.
We’ve got your health needs covered!
You can read more about these and other childhood illnesses on the healthdirect website.
And if your little one is poorly, you can help them feel better by stocking up on cooling patches, thermometers and more from our online shop.
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