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MINOR AILMENTS


COMMUNITY PHARMACY IS THE ‘GO TO’ PLACE FOR KIDS RIGHT FROM BIRTH. SP TAKES A CLOSER LOOK AT...


MINOR PATIENTS WITH MINOR AILMENTS


but detection combing is sure to root them out. Suggest to parents that they purchase a special, fine-toothed comb (there are various dedicated head lice combs on the market now) and show them how to use it by combing the hair a section at a time. The process is made simpler if hair condition is used first, as head lice can move rapidly in dry hair. After each stroke with the comb, the comb teeth should be checked for lice. If there is an infestation, then recommend a head lice treatment. It may also be an idea to recommend a specific shampoo or treatment, which is designed to ward them off in the future.


Chickenpox - or varicella to give it its correct name - is one of the most common infectious childhood illnesses. The child will feel as if he or she has a cold or fever, then small pink bumps will spread over the whole body, developing into little water blisters. The child will be itchy and infectious until the last spot is dry. Scratching can cause scarring, so suggest to parents that they dab calamine lotion onto the spots. The child may be more comfortable at home and should not come into contact with pregnant women as exposure to chickenpox can lead to birth defects. If the child’s spots become infected a GP may prescribe an antibiotic cream.


A


s a pharmacist, you’re probably asked for advice by parents on a regular basis. Common baby and child health miseries - everything from colic to head lice - can leave kids in considerable discomfort and parent tired, irritable and upset.


Fortunately, there are products available on the market for practically every minor ailment that affects children.


A raised temperature in a child is caused by the resetting of the body’s own natural thermostat to a higher level. in order to make the body hotter, the blood vessels on the surface of the skin become much smaller to minimise the loss of heat. Once this new, higher setting of the body’s own thermostat is reached,


44 - SCOTTISH PHARMACIST


the temperature will be higher than normal. Most parents adopt the attitude that a fever is bad for a child, but this may not always be true. A raised temperature may, in fact, be harmful to any bugs, which are causing an illness and may actually reinforce the body’s own immune system, which is fighting the problem. To reduce a child’s temperature, the child should be stripped down and sponged with a cool cloth. Paracetamol will not only help to reduce the temperature, but will also help to kill any pain that the child may be experiencing.


Sticky eyes or conjunctivitis is the term given to eyes, which are red and sore looking. it is usually easy to diagnose thanks to the distinctive yellow gunge on the edge of the lids, which often causes the lids to stick


together after a night’s sleep. Often the infected eye is runny, red and inflamed. The condition isn’t really painful, but can cause a gritty soreness in the eye, especially when blinking. If the infection looks mild, the parent should be advised to simply bathe the eye with lukewarm will, but, if the eye looks more ‘gungey’, then you should advise the parent to go to their GP as a course of antibiotics may be required.


Head lice - a nightmare for parents at any time, but especially in September, when close proximity of little heads at nursery or school allows head lice to move easily from one head to another. (Head lice can’t hop, fly or swim, but they’re easily transferred because young kids tend to put their heads closer to each other.) Head lice can be difficult to spot on the hair,


Common colds are - as you know - caused by viral infections and can’t really be prevented, so treatment of the symptoms is really all that can be done. Sore throats and a temperature can be treated with paracetamol and there’s a variety of OTC medicines available. If the child’s nose is sore from blowing into tissues, suggest that Vaseline is smeared on it to bring the child some relief. A humidifier may also help.


Mumps are an infectious disease that’s caused by a virus. There’s no specific medical treatment for mumps but, fortunately, they’re less common now thanks to the MMR vaccination, which is given to most children between twelve and fifteen months, but some parents choose not to let their children have the vaccination, which can put them at risk of mumps, measles and rubella. If a child does get mumps, their neck will be swollen and tender and they may have a fever. They may also experience pain when swallowing and so should be given soft, puréed food and plenty to drink.


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