Under each condition, where relevant, we give the following sections:
- A brief summary of the illness or ailment
- Self help
- When to get urgent medical attention
- Conventional treatment
- Homeopathic treatment
Asthma is a chronic condition that tends to run in families where there is a history of allergies or respiratory disease. It does not usually occur in children under two years of age, but you will often find that the child has had eczema, hay fever, allergic rhinitis (runny nose and itchy eyes), bronchitis or bronchiolitis prior to developing asthma. If your child suffers from colds that settle on the chest, with thick phlegm and wheeziness, you should be aware that there is some lung weakness and therefore a predisposition to respiratory disease. Constitutional treatment from a qualified homeopath will help to strengthen the lungs and reduce the possibility of more serious conditions, such as asthma, developing.
Asthma attacks can be managed with remedies at home but it is best to seek the advice of a homeopath for the most appropriate remedies and to have conventional medicine at hand until you and your child are confident enough to manage without it. An asthma attack is one of the most frightening situations to experience at home and parents may find that their own fear and anxiety can magnify the situation. Remedies to help manage your own emotional state can help.
An asthma attack is usually due to one of three main triggers: an allergic reaction to inhaled irritants, or mucus in the lungs from an infection such as a cold or bronchitis, and emotional disturbance. Sometimes a change in the weather can trigger attacks.
Common allergens are house dust, animal fur or dander, and pollens, Emotional disturbances might be fear, anxiety, thunderstorms.
In an asthma attack the airways are narrowed from either a muscular spasm where an allergen or an emotional stress is the trigger (dry asthma) or from a build up of catarrhal mucus that irritates and inflames the mucus membrane surface of the airways (wet asthma). The child can be incapable of either inhaling or exhaling fully. There is usually wheezing. The child may be distressed, even fearful, and experience rapid shallow breathing, breathlessness, tightness in the chest and show signs of effort in order to breathe. The may be blueness around the mouth. In an extreme attack there is a danger of suffocation.
Most children do grow out of asthma.
- During an attack, keep calm. Asthma attacks can be frightening and by increasing your child’s anxiety you will add to his distress. Sit your child upright, supported by cushions and try to help him to stabilise his breathing by breathing rhythmically with him.
- Encourage your child to swim and engage frequently in enjoyable activities like soft gymnastics. Help your child to perform exercises that keep his chest and shoulders open and relaxed and encourage a deeper breathing rhythm.
- With wet asthma, facial steams, vaporisers and humidifiers can help as these encourage the mucus to loosen. Central heating causes the air passages to get very dry and irritated, so leave the heating off at night and allow some fresh air into the room. A bowl of water by radiators during the day helps to moisten the air.
- Massage can help to relax. Essential oils can enhance the experience and support lung function. A blend of 4 drops of Pine essential oil, 2 drops of Lavender essential oil and a base oil (for massage) or in a vaporiser will encourage relaxed sleep and help to strengthen the lungs. Both these oils can be used alongside homeopathic remedies.
- The most common allergen is the house dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) Dust can accumulate in carpets, mattresses etc so be particularly meticulous about cleaning your child’s room. . Feathers can irritate, as can animal fur, animal dander (skin) and pollen. Passive smoking should be avoided. Fungus and moulds can be allergens.
- With allergic asthma avoid all food additives, reduce dairy products as these are mucus forming, and may be the allergens, reduce refined sugars and replace some refined wheat products (bread, pasta, cakes and biscuits) with other grains – oats, rice, polenta. Include more essential fatty acids in the diet – sunflower, pumpkin, linseed and sesame seeds are a good source of these and buy a good quality (chelated or colloidal form) vitamin and mineral supplement that includes vitamins B, B6, C, E, zinc, and selenium. Eggs and shellfish are also common allergens.
- If asthma tends to come after a cold, do all you can to prevent a child getting secondary infection i.e. wear scarves and hats in cold weather.
- Asthma can be triggered by emotion – excitement, fear, family dynamics (the arrival of a new sibling), anxiety about school, friends or family. For many asthmatics there is an obvious association between anxiety and an attack and this is especially common in children. It may even appear that the child is ‘using’ their asthma to ‘get their own way.’ This is just as valid a reason for an attack as anything else. Talking with an experienced and objective third party may be very helpful. Constitutional homeopathic treatment can help to deal with these issues.
- (see GENERAL SELF HELP section)
YOU MUST SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION
- if prescribed remedies, whether conventional or homeopathic, fail to act
- there is any sign of blueness of extremities
- if respiration is above 50 – 60 breaths per minute (if child is under 4)
- if respiration is above 40 breaths per minute (if child is over 4)
- if the child becomes drowsy
- has difficulty speaking
- or if the ribs are sucked inwards
There are often associated side effects with conventional treatment.
Bronchodilators such as Ventolin inhalers are non-steroidal. They work by dilating the airways. They are good for emergencies as they allow the child to breathe more normally. However the body’s natural response is to restrict the entry of the allergen by narrowing the airways and bringing white blood cells to the inflamed linings of the airways to promote natural healing. If the airways are artificially dilated more allergens can then enter and the body is then pushed into producing more white blood cells and histamine to deal with the situation. Steroids (usually Becatide) are then needed to dampen this allergic response. Intal is a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. This drug intervention forces the body into acting outside it’s natural capacity which can lead to exhaustion and lassitude in the short term, and a dependence on the drug process in the long term to deal with subsequent asthma attacks.
Bronchodilators also dilate the arteries leading to palpitations. Steroid drugs will inhibit the body’s natural production of adrenaline, which is the hormone we use to deal with stressful situations.
Constitutional treatment is recommended for asthma. Where the child has been given a lot of conventional medicine your homeopath will need to liase with your general practitioner in order to reduce the drugs safely and replace them with homeopathic remedies.
There are many remedies that can be used in an asthma attack. Here are a few of the more common ones. Remedies should be taken every 10 minutes in an attack
ARSENICUM ALBUM 30c – for dry asthma with breathlessness coming on late at night, or after midnight, with much anxiety, fear and restlessness. The child will need your company and might ask for frequent sips of water. The asthma might come on after a tummy upset and be accompanied with a tightness in the chest and throat. A younger child might only be pacified by being carried and walked up and down quite fast.
CARBO VEG 30c – breathlessness, burpiness, blueness, chilliness and cold perspiration are the key pointers to this remedy. The child may want to be fanned. The asthma may come on after eating inappropriate foods, shock or an allergic reaction.
MORGAN BACH 30c – a general remedy for allergic asthma attacks.
NAT SULPH 30c – asthma that comes on in cold, damp weather with a loose cough and is worse exertion. The child may have to hold the sides of his chest as he coughs and there may be early morning diarrhea.
PULSATILLA 30c – wet asthma with wheezing & lots of phlegm on the chest. Worse in a warm, stuffy room. Your child may be thirstless and very clingy. The asthma is worse lying down and better for some fresh air and cuddles.
Catarrh is usually the symptom of a cold, but it can occur with other illnesses such as measles and flu. Your child may experience a runny nose, nasal congestion, snuffling, coughing, and even vomiting of mucus and food in an effort to clear the chest, In itself, catarrh is not serious, but it can cause a baby distress and make things difficult for you. Babies always breathe through their nostrils and only use their mouth if their nostrils are congested. Problems in feeding can arise and sleeping patterns can be disturbed for a while after the congestion has cleared.
- Keep your child propped up with extra pillows at night to avoid mucus running down the throat.
- A gentle massage of the chest and back before bedtime, using an essential oil a blend of 4 drops of Pine essential oil, 2 drops of Lavender essential oil and a base oil can help to relieve congestion.
- Light percussion (tapping) on the chest and back can also help relieve congestion.
- A couple of drops of lavender and pine essential oils placed on each side of the pillow can also help breathing during the night.
- As with asthma, it is important that the air is not too dry. Keep central heating low or off in the bedroom at night and try using a humidifier.
- Dairy products can lead to an over-production of mucus. Children under five do need fat and calcium in their diets, so make sure they get satisfactory substitutes.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic and is particularly for any nasal congestion, so be sure to include it in your cooking.
Catarrh or mucus production is the body’s natural way of ‘clearing out’ an infection. Persistent chronic over-production of mucus or a cold that drags on for weeks is unpleasant for the child and can lead to other complications, particularly ear infections. Frequent use of antibiotics can aggravate this tendency as the body’s natural healing process is inhibited by the drugs. Unfortunately pollution, allergens and a diet high in dairy products or citrus fruits can increase the tendency to produce too much mucus. Many allergies or sensitivities can be reduced or eliminated with good constitutional prescribing. Constitutional homeopathic treatment is often required, although acute conditions may be treated with remedies from your kit.
FERR PHOS 6x – four times a day for one or two or days if you sense that your child is ‘just coming down’ with a cold give
NAT MUR 6c – four times per day for one or two days if the nasal discharge is very runny and watery with lots of sneezing
KALI MUR 6x – four times per day for one or two days if the nasal discharge is very runny and watery with lots of sneezing
KALI SULPH 6x – four times per day for one or two days if the nasal discharge is sticky and yellow-green.
PULSATILLA 6c – four times per day for two to three days if the catarrh is bland, thick and yellowish and the child tends to be weepy, clingy and less thirsty than normal.
Chicken Pox is one of the most contagious, but also one of the mildest infectious fevers of childhood. It has an incubation period of 14-21 days before the rash appears during which your child may be vaguely unwell or feverish. The child is infectious for all of the incubation period and when the spots are out and remains so until the last scab is shed. It usually affects children under the age of ten and the severity of the rash can vary enormously from one child to another, even within the same family.
After the incubation period dark red pimples appear in clusters over a period of three or four days. These then form blisters which are easily broken. The blisters then scab over and can leave shallow circular scars when they fall off. The scars will fade and eventually disappear. Chicken Pox can be extremely itchy, but scratching must be avoided because this can cause infection and increase the likelihood of permanent scarring. The severity of the rash obviously affects the child’s ability to cope with it. In more severe cases the child can have them inside the mouth, ear, anus and vagina, which can very unpleasant. Chicken Pox tends to be milder, the earlier you get it. On the other hand, if you get it as an adult it can be a very unpleasant illness and the spots tend to scar, which they don’t in young children.
- Make up oatmeal bags to wash. Put a handful of porridge oats into a square of muslin and tie securely with string or a rubber band. In the bath water the oats release a slippery, soothing salve that can be used to wash with.
- Keep baths cool as too much heat can bring on a feverish state
- Pat the skin dry after a bath, rather than vigorously towel drying.
- Two or three drops of Hypercal or Urtica Urens tincture can be added to a bowl of tepid water and dabbed onto spots with cotton wool at any time, but particularly before bedtime and after a bath.
- Keep fingernails short and clean so that if scabs are accidentally scratched there is less risk of infection.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
- If the spots become pussy and infected and simply aren’t healing.
- A cough develops that becomes rattly and lingers
- Bleeding beneath the surface of the skin
If the fever stage lingers – see the section on FEVERS
If your child is running a fever during the incubation period, consult the section on FEVER.Once the spots are out the following remedies can be useful
RHUS TOX 30c – for intense itching, which is worse at night with restlessness and frequent waking. There might be a general achiness and a characteristic symptom is a triangular red tip to the tongue.
SULPHUR 30c – if the spots are lingering. Your child might be irritable with a chesty cough.
Is the term for spasm in a hollow tube or organ. Colic is usually used to describe bouts of tummy pain in babies. The digestive system is very young and still forming, Wind can easily become trapped. During an attack of colic the baby may draw the knees up to the tummy or stretch out rigidly and arch the back. These bouts of pain often occur at a particular time of day, usually during the evening, and are most common from 3 weeks old to 12 weeks old. Colic is very distressing for parents. There is a lot that can be done to help ease your baby’s discomfort
- If your baby is breastfed check your diet for possible foods that can upset the digestive system– these include spicy foods, onions, garlic, beans, the cabbage family, the Solanaciae family (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and aubergine), chocolate, orange juice, acid-forming foods (tea, coffee, alcohol & refined sugars)
- Drink fennel or dill tea. These stimulate digestion and the benefits are passed on through your breast milk.
- With bottle-fed babies check that bottle teats are the right size so that your baby is not swallowing lots of air with each feed. Make formula according to the instructions – not enough water may cause thirst and an excess of salt in the diet whereas too much water may not provide a hunger-satisfying feed.
- Learn to wind your baby – yes, even breastfed babies need winding! A supported sitting position or being held against your shoulder and having a gentle back rub should help to bring up wind.
- Sometimes being held close to you and being walked and rocked is the only way to soothe your baby. Invest in a baby carrier that you can use comfortably around the house. Breastfed babies associate milk with comfort and so the smell of you might make your baby want to feed which often only compound s the problem. Colicky babies will often settle more easily with dad or another willing helper.
- Establish a warm bath and massage routine before the time when colic is most likely to occur so that your baby is relaxed. Tummy massage in a clockwise direction (see section on MASSAGE) with a blend of 2 drops of Lavender oil and 4 drops of chamomile essential oils in a base oil will help soothe and calm.
During the colic give remedies every 5 – 10 minutes.
COLOCYNTH 30c – severe pain with drawing up of the legs in an effort to bend double. The baby may seem restless, angry and frustrated. Pains may come on suddenly and be relieved by firm pressure on the tummy or by bending over your arm.
MAG PHOS 30c – similar to Colocynth in that the baby draws up the knees but the pain is better for warmth and massage as well as pressure.
CHAMOMILLA 30c – extreme irritability, nothing satisfies, a hot and bothered state. The baby must be carried and walked. One or both cheeks may be red and the stools may be loose and greenish. The baby may be furious with the pain and scream loudly. Worse at night.
Four drops of Bach Flower RESCUE REMEDY in a little water can help to calm down the situation – take some yourself and use on cotton wool to dab on your baby’s face and neck.
True conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the eyeball and the inside of the eyelid. It is caused by an allergy, infection or injury and although it is rarely serious in adults, it can be in babies and should be treated by a qualified practitioner. Babies can easily experience gummy eyes as a result of a mild infection or blocked tear ducts. It can affect one or both eyes with redness, watering, itchiness or pain. The eyes might be gummy and stuck together on waking. Consult your homeopath if symptoms persist.
- With clean hands and short nails, gently massage the skin on either side of the nose to unblock the tear ducts.
- Wipe the affected eye(s) with a swab of cotton wool dipped in a blend of 2 drops of Hypercal tincture in a cup of cooled boiled water
PULSATILLA 30c – for yellow green bland discharge from the eyes
EUPHRASIA 30c – for irritated, red, watery eyes.
The main function of the lower bowel is to regulate the water balance in our bodies. If we do not have enough water in our system it is from here that the body will take what it needs. If too much water is drawn out at this stage of digestion a dry stool is the result. Certain foods are difficult for us to digest and if these are introduced too early in the diet this can lead to sluggish bowel action. The tone of the lower bowel is important and in children this is still developing.
Many adult patients will recall bouts of constipation as a child, so it is best to start healthily with a balanced good diet, plenty of fresh water and constitutional treatment to help clear any problems.
- Total breastfeeding, for at least 6 months, can reduce the risk of constipation.
- Encourage an older child to drink at least four glasses of filtered or spring water per day.
- A teaspoon of freshly squeezed orange juice can help shift a bout of constipation in a baby, but seek homeopathic advice if the problem reoccurs.
NUX VOMICA 30c – the commonest remedy for infants who have constipation after weaning to cows milk. Constant urging and straining to pass a stool. Child is irritable. An older child may be constipated from over eating party food.
BRYONIA 30c – large dry, hard stools. Dry mucous membrane. Thirst for large quantities of water.
CALC CARB 30c – constipation with a changing stool – hard at first, then soft and mushy. Food can be only partially digested or look like lumps of chalk. The child is not bothered by being constipated.
LYCOPODIUM – small, hard stool with ineffectual urging and lots of windiness. Constipation away from home.
Croup is a cough with a characteristic ‘bark’ caused by air being forced out through constricted air passages. Croup can be quite alarming because of the way it sounds and the rapidity of it’s onset. There can be hoarseness, rasping on the inbreath, throat pain and tightness in the chest. Some children seem to be more susceptible to croup and may well suffer repeated attacks.
- Croup is often greatly relieved in a humid environment so invest in a humidifier, or boil a kettle in the room before bedtime.
- If croup comes on suddenly sit with your child in a steamy bathroom or near steamimg pans on the stove
- Never leave a child unattended near hot water or steaming pans.
- A facial steam over a bowl of hot water will help older children.
- Encourage children who are particularly susceptible to croup to wear hats and scarves.
SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE IMMEDIATELY
If the breath is rasping and the onset is very sudden with no cold symptoms – there might be something stuck in the airways
ACONITE 30c – sudden onset after being out in a cold, dry wind or after a shock or fright. The child may go to bed fine and then wake suddenly after midnight, the child may be anxious and fearful.
SPONGIA 30c – a dry, harsh cough with laboured, noisy breathing during sleep. The croup is more established with a loud bark-like dry cough that either prevents sleep or wakes the child repeatedly. Worse before midnight.
HEPAR SULPH 30c – the cough is worse outside. The child is irritable, touchy and very chilly
It may be necessary to use all three remedies as the healing process occurs.
Diarrhoea is an increase in both the frequency as well as in the looseness of stools. Breast fed babies naturally have a loose stool and may pass up to 8 stools a day. However if the stool changes and becomes greenish or watery or it burns the bottom it is worth checking your own diet for possible irritants before prescribing remedies for you baby. (See the list below for ‘hard to digest foods in children’ as these kind of foods in your diet may indicate a sensitivity in your baby)
The body generally passes nutrients through the digestive system by peristalsis (a regular muscular action) and absorbs water and nutrients through the gut wall. When the body wants to be rid of germs and toxins it reduces this absorption and speeds up the peristalsis to expel the irritant quickly as possible. The increased muscular action can cause the familiar tummy pain and gurgling associated with the diarrhoea. The matter is likely to be more acid and irritant and often burns the bottom.
One or two lose stools in a day is not generally a cause for concern, but be aware that lower bowel problems (either diarrhoea or constipation) in babies and children generally indicates that inappropriate food has been introduced to the diet. This may be in the form of ‘party food’ rich in refined sugars and food colourings, or food that your child is not able to tolerate yet. The commonest foods to cause food intolerance in babies are dairy products, refined wheat, food additives, orange juice, meat and certain fruit and vegetables that contain chemicals that are harder to digest, chiefly tomatoes, aubergine, peppers, onions, starwberries and even garlic in young babies..
If you consider that our gut and kidneys can only begin to process the simplest of solid foods at 3 months old and that a child doesn’t have the enzymes to digest meat until the incisor teeth have come through (usually at 15-17months) and that our liver processes toxins in the body and is only fully developed at 5 years old, then it is easy to see that the forming digestive system might encounter problems if hard to digest foods are introduced too soon.
If you suspect that food intolerance is a problem for your child then consult your homeopath or a nutritional adviser trained in childhood issues.
Antibiotics can also cause short and long term looses stools in children and will be affecting the absorption of adequate nutrients form their food. If you suspect that this is a problem for your child there are excellent remedies that your homeopath can prescribe to help clear this tendency and encourage good absorption from foods.
- Make sure the child takes plenty of fluids. If your baby is being breastfed, allow him to feed frequently as your body will naturally provide more thirst-satisfying milk. Remember to drink plenty of spring or filtered water yourself.
- Avoid milk and dairy products and fatty foods. These are harder to digest and can make diarrhoea worse.
- If your child is loses a lot of fluid over a period of more than a day, your GP will probably suggest something like Dioralyte sachets to add to water. These contain glucose and salt to replace lost nutrients.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
- Frequent, loose, watery stools for more than six hours, if your child is less than a year old, should be investigated by your GP.
- Medical attention should also be given if the child seems unwell and has no appetite, or if the diarrhoea is not clearing on homeopathic remedies and is accompanied by persistent stomach pain or vomiting. It is usually quite easy to determine whether the child just has a mild ‘tummy bug’ which is very common, or if the child is really unwell with pain and fever.
ALOES30c – diarrhoea after a summer chill, after food which disagrees or anger. Symptoms worse in early morning and after eating. Lots of tummy gurgling before stool. Yellow-green, spluttery stool with lots of wind as it is expelled. Child may not be able to urinate without an involuntary stool.
ARSENICUM ALBUM 30c – diarrhoea and / or vomiting often comes on after cold drinks, ice cream or watery fruits. Diarrhea is burning. The child is usually worse after midnight with restlessness, anxiety, clinginess and thirst for frequent sips of water. The child may want to be carried fast (just a cuddle is not enough) This is also the classic food poisoning remedy.
PHOSPHOROUS 30c – involuntary, painless gushing stool with no control over the anal sphinctre. May come on after fright, shock or excitement . Thirsty for lots of cold water that may be vomited as soon as it becomes warm in the stomach.
PULSATILLA 30c – diarrhoea is worse at night and may be after rich, fatty foods, onions, cold drinks. The child is clingy and no two stools are alike.
Earache can be caused by infection of the middle ear (otitis media) or outer ear (otitis externa) and can accompany other infections such as a fever, sore throat, mumps or occur at the end of a cold. Earache can also come on after exposure to cold wind, swimming or air travel. If a child is complaining of earache it is important to check that there is not an object stuck inside the ear.
The first stage of an inflammatory process is fever and the second stage is mucus and pus production and when this happens in a confined space, like the inner ear, this causes mounting pressure and pain. If allowed to continue this may simply clear by drainage down the Eustachian tube to the throat or it may cause rupture of the eardrum and subsequent discharge from the ear until the infection is cleared. In young children the Eustachian tube is both shorter and set at a less vertical angle than in adulthood, making drainage much harder. A ruptured eardrum normally heals quickly.
If a child has recurrent ear infections you must consult a qualified practitioner. Frequent rupturing of the eardrum can cause scarring and lead to a gradual loss of hearing. Ears problems respond well to constitutional homeopathic treatment.
A young child will usually be restless and clingy and often rubs or pulls at the ear or the side of the face. There may be signs of local inflammation like a reddened ear, a rosy cheek, discharge from the ear or a general feverish state. Earache is often worse at night and can be extremely distressing for the child.
Conventional treatment is usually with antibiotics. Trials in 1981 showed that treatment with antibiotics showed no difference in pain relief, healing time, subsequent hearing loss or reduction in incidence of earache compared to children given a placebo. Another study showed that children given antibiotics in the first stages of otitis media were more likely to have recurrent ear infections than those given no antibiotics. It seems that if we stop the natural inflammatory process the mucus remains and becomes thicker and stickier and can lead to the diagnosis of glue ear.
When to seek help
- Earache should never be ignored. Always consult a qualified practitioner if earache does not respond within a few hours to remedies. Serious acute problems are rare but diagnosis by a practitioner, trained to look in your child’s ear, is important.
- Seek immediate medical attention if severe weakness, disinterest, headache or a stiff neck accompany earache.
- If there is an object inside the ear, do not try to remove it or put any liquid inside – but take the child to casualty.
- Dizziness, nausea and vomiting with earache may indicate a viral infection in the Eustachian tube. Homeopathic treatment can help shorten the attack where conventional medicine cannot treat viral complaints.
- After a heavy cold it is quite common for a child’s hearing to be quite radically reduced for some weeks, so be aware of this if your child is due for a hearing test shortly after a cold as it may affect the results of the test.
ACONITE 30c – sudden onset after being out in a cold, dry wind or after a shock or fright. The child may go to bed fine and then wake suddenly after midnight with ear pain, the child may be anxious and fearful.
BELLADONNA 30c – here there is sudden onset, often after having had a clear runny nose for a while. There may be fever with lots of heat around the head, dilated pupils, possible delirium, great sensitivity to noise, touch and any jarring. The outer ear canal may be red and there may be throat or face pain.
CHAMOMILLA 30c – extreme irritability, nothing satisfies, a hot and bothered state. Children want to be carried and walked. One or both cheeks may be red. Your child may be furious with the pain and scream loudly. Worse at night.
PULSATILLA 30c –your child may be whiny, clingy and tearful, but is much better for a cuddle than the Chamomilla child. There may be a bland, greeny-yellow nasal and /or ear discharge. The pain is also worse at night and worse in a warm room.
The onset of eczema is often associated with the introduction of cow’s milk and other dairy products, or foods that are more difficult to digest, such as eggs and wheat. Other common allergens are house dust mite, skin irritants such as wool and synthetic fibres, washing powders, detergents, soaps and animals.
Eczema can also be brought on by emotional stress. Eczema is often associated with a history of eczema, asthma and other allergies in the family. Children usually grow out of eczema but it can be a chronic condition
Itchy red blotches and dry scaly patches on the skin that are itchy, painful, burning or sore. Eczema can become cracked and weepy and even bleed which can result in an infected form of eczema. Eczema appears most commonly on the face and forehead and also in the folds of skin behind the knees, under arms, creases of the neck, wrist and ankles, elbows and behind the ears. Sometimes it will appear in patches on the body, arma and legs. It can occur from birth, but is commonly seen after the first set of vaccinations at 1, 2 & 3 months. Eczema can be extremely distressing both for your child and you.
- Total breastfeeding, for at least 6 months, can reduce the risk of eczema, especially for those with a family history.
- Diet is very important. Professional investigation for allergy is a worthwhile.
- Increasing essential fatty acids and zinc in the diet can help all skin conditions. For breastfed children this can be included in your own diet, for older children you can increase sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds in the diet. Humus is a good source of sesame seeds and halva makes a sweet but nutritious treat.
- Keep finger nails short and clean to prevent too much damage from scratching.
- Use natural, unperfumed soaps and washing powders. Try washing with an oatmeal bag. Oats are soothing for the skin and calm the nervous system. Put a handful of porridge oats in a clean muslin square and tie securely.
- Soak cloth nappies in Household Borax (available from the chemist) Boil wash and add a tbsp of cider vinegar to the final rinse. These are fantastic natural cleansers & deodorisers, kinder to the environment and baby’s skin.
- Add 2 drops of Lavender and 4 drops of Calendula pure essential oils to a small cup of milk and pour under the taps as you run the bath for dry itchy skin. Replace the Calendula with 4 drops Tea Tree oil for infected eczema.
- Chickweed (Stellaria) ointment helps to comfort dry, itchy skin.
- You may find that exposure to sunlight helps heal the skin, as can the saltwater of the sea. Many sunscreens contain metal derivatives and other skin irritants and if your child’s skin is worse in the sun it is often difficult, even for a skilled practitioner, to work out if it is the sun or the sunscreen that makes the condition worse. There are organic sunscreens available that would reduce the chance of aggravation.
- Look into patterns of stress to see if this exacerbates the condition.
- Dress the child in 100% cotton clothes and keep heating off at night in the room.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
Seek medical advice for infected eczema.
There are many different topical applications for eczema. There are anti-fungicide , antibiotic and steroid (hydrocortisone) creams, oils and moisturisers, Most creams are prepared in a petroleum base. Hydrocortisone cream appears to work miracles in the short term, but if the cream is withdrawn the eczema often returns later with a vengeance. Steroids are produced by our bodies as part of our stress-response system. Steroids are releasedby two small endocrine glands called the adrenal glands that are attached to the kidneys. Studies have shown that when synthetic steroids are introduced into the body the adrenals cease to function effectively and start to atrophy within 2 weeks. If your child is using or has had hydrocortisone cream it is best to avoid orange juice as it is an adrenal stimulant – replace with other citrus fruits – tangerine, satsumas. Mandarins. Chocolate & hard cheese also stimulate the adrenal glands9.
As eczema can be caused and aggravated by so many different factors it is best to consult with a professional homeopath as there are many strategies to follow. If there is a specific allergy this needs to be eliminated. Although it can take time to disappear it is worth persevering with remedies as they have no adverse side effects and will promote the long-term health of your child.
Fever is the body’s natural response to a pathogen (bacteria, virus) and indicates that there is increased action in the body’s immune system to deal with the situation. There a significant stages to a fever and you may find that using the indicated remedy precipitates the next stage of the fever. Fevers may be simple or they may be eruptive (measles, chickenpox, German measles) suppurative (leading to mucus production, colds, flus) or related to digestive upsets (food sensitivity or teething)
Chilliness and a lowered body temperature are often the first signs of a fever. An older child may tell you this but a younger child may be oblivious. You may notice paleness, shivers or perhaps cold hand sand feet in a baby. Once the body has tackled the cause of the fever the energy will need to be dispersed and this brings heat to the area causing redness and hot skin. Sweat later cools the body.
Fever becomes a problem if a high temperature persists or if your child keeps sliding back into the feverish state after appearing to recover. See SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY section and contact your homeopath if symptoms persist in spite of using homeopathic remedies.
- Open a window and keep the room cool (but not cold)
- Use only light bedcovers – a sheet rather than a duvet
- Sit your child in a bath and tepid sponge the whole body
- Make sure the child takes plenty of fluids. If your baby is being breastfed, allow him to feed frequently as your body will naturally provide more thirst-satisfying milk. Remember to drink plenty of spring or filtered water yourself.
- Offer plenty of juices (not orange juice or highly sugared drinks) and plenty of water. Cooled, boiled water can be offered to breastfed infants.
- Solid food is not recommended for anyone in an acute fever state.
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY
- In any patient – If the fever is above 41.1C
- In a child under 6 months – If the fever is above 40C go straight to hospital
- In a child under 4 months – seek advice for any fever. Babies can stop feeding and become rapidly dehydrated. The more floppy or weak the baby is the greater the need for medical attention. Do whatever is necessary to get a very sick baby seen.
- If the conscious level of the patient is affected – drowsiness, confusion, lethargy and unresponsiveness.
- If there are fits or convulsions
- If the neck becomes stiff
- If breathing becomes rapid or laboured
- Often parents will just ‘know’ that a state is serious, trust your gut reaction and act accordingly
There is often a visible causative factor in a fever, such as being out in a cold wind, getting hot and sweaty while playing and then getting cold, being out on a chilly evening after a hot day, getting wet and cold, teething, etc, These factors will indicate which homeopathic remedies you chose.
ACONITE 30c – sudden onset after being out in a cold, dry wind or after a shock or fright. The child may go to bed fine and then wake suddenly after midnight with a fever, the child may be anxious and fearful.
BELLADONNA 30c – Red, hot, throbbing dry fevers. When children feel like rosy radiators, helps to break the fever and bring on relieving sweat. Often see dilated pupils and jitteryness with the fever. There may be fever with lots of heat around the head, dilated pupils, great sensitivity to noise, touch and any jarring. There may be a clear nasal discharge.
CHAMOMILLA 30c – fever associated with teething. Extreme irritability, nothing satisfies, a hot and bothered state. Children want be carried and walked. One or both cheeks may be red. Your child may be furious with the pain and scream loudly. Worse at night.
MERCURIUS 30c – Fever with a sore throat, smelly breath, drooling and sweatiness. Thirsty with a coated tongue.
PULSATILLA 30c – your child may be whiny, clingy and tearful, but is much better for a cuddle than the Chamomilla child. There may be a bland, greeny-yellow nasal discharge. The fever is worse in a warm room and the child will be relieved by fresh air.
Unfortunately head lice are now almost routine in city schools. Children seem to be more susceptible than ever to regular outbreaks of head lice. The lice are parasites that live on clean healthy hair and favour the warm spots behind the ears and nape. Head lice are grey brown in colour and about the size of a sesame seed.
Infestation can cause intense itching, lack of energy and poor concentration – hence the term ‘feeling lousy’.
- Regularly check your child’s hair, particularly if you know there is an epidemic at school or nursery.
- Tie back or plait long hair
- Give the hair a final rinse at least twice a week with two drops each of the following essential oils in a jug of warm water – geranium, tea tree, bergamot, lavender & rosemary.
- Alert your child’s carers and friends if you discover lice.
- If your child has lice, wash the hair as normal every other day for 8 days. Each time use a conditioner, then comb, comb, comb with a fine toothed lice comb (available from a chemists) This removes both adult lice and the eggs (nits)
- Two commercial products that are safe and effective are Head Nurse from www.barefoot-botanicals.com and Nice n Clear from www.lice.co.uk
Chemical treatments or alcohol applied to the hair and scalp. These are often organo-phosphates. Trials have shown that these cause headaches, dizziness, hyperactivity, panic attacks and depression.
Constitutional treatment can address the pre-disposition to hosting parasites of any sort.
STAPHYSAGRIA 30c – given daily for three days may help reduce the likelihood of re-infestation.
Measles is a common, highly infectious childhood disease spread by droplets in coughs and sneezes. Although unpleasant it is not usually serious. It usually occurs in younger children and is more serious in adults although one attack should provide immunity for life. Complications can develop but are rare. Measles is a notifiable disease and if you or your practitioner suspects that your child has measles you should go to your GP for confirmation.
After an attack of measles children very often emerge with a new vitality. Many practitioners believe that these infectious childhood diseases are important stages in the development of our immune systems and that we are more robust afterwards.
Measles has an incubation period of between 10-14 days. The first sign of measles is usually a runny nose, a low-grade fever, red watery eyes and sometimes a hacking cough. After two or three days tiny spots like pearls or salt crystals (Koplick’s spots) appear inside the cheeks. On the third or fourth day there is a brief drop in the fever and a flush of light red spots appear behind the ears which spread over the face and body. The spots may be slightly raised. As the rash spreads the spots run together and new ones appear on the chest arms, tummy and eventually the legs. The rash works its way down the body and disappears as it came. Your child may be listless and feverish when the rash is spread all over the body but will pick up as the rash fades. Light sensitivity with watery red eyes during the rash stage is common. The rash stage can last from a couple of days to a week.
- Your child will need bed rest, low lighting and lots of your attention during the fever stage.
- Your child may have little or no appetite. Don’t force a child to eat during any fever. Digesting food requires a lot of metabolic energy and your child needs to use energy to heal.
- Make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids. Chose simple diluted fruit juices. – apple, pear, pineapple. Avoid artificial sweeteners, sugared juices and orange juice.
- The body generates heat in a fever to kill bacteria and even higher temperatures produce interferon to kill viruses. Proteins are also killed by heat so give your child light protein drinks – fresh green coconut juice (available in cartons), light miso soup, manuka honey & lemon.
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY
- For measles in any child under six months,
- If your child has severe drowsiness, vomiting, severe headache or stiff neck.
- Spontaneous bruising, bleeding under the skin
- Difficult or rapid breathing
See FEVER section
ACONITE 30C – excellent for the early stages of measles with restlessness, runny nose, red eyes, sensitivity to light, dry croup-like cough.
PULSATILLA 30c – for fever with clinginess and weepiness where your child is better for a cuddle and your attention. Almost a specific for clearing up measles, where there is bland, green-yellow runny nasal discharge with a dry nighttime cough, wet daytime cough and ligering ear or eye problems.
EUPHRASIA TINCTURE – add 2 –3 drops to a little warm, salty water and use as an eye-wash to soothe irritated eyes.
Mumps is a viral infection of the parotid glands with mild fever, loss of appetite. The parotid glands are two of the six salivary glands and are just in front and below the ears. Other salivary glands are very occasionally affected and the illness is only serious if it affects older children and if it extends to inflammation in the glands associated with reproduction – the ovaries and testes. It has to be said that this extremely rare and even then full recovery is the norm. Mumps mostly affects children between three & ten years old.
Mumps has as incubation period of about 12 – 24 days. The child often feels unwell for a day or two with swollen, tender parotid glands on one or both sides. This is the first visible symptom. Mumps is often quite unmistakable as the child’s face becomes distorted, his neck and cheeks very swollen. As two of the saliva-producing glands are affected, there is usually a dry mouth and pain on swallowing. Fever and headache can also be present. Mumps can, however, be so mild that it passes completely unnoticed.
- Avoid acid drinks such as orange, lemon and ginger as these stimulate salivation and may cause pain.
- Ice cream and natural fruit jellies help to cool and relieve the symptoms as well as cheer up your child.
SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE
- For severe symptoms in a child over 10 years old.
- Any convulsions, severe stiffness of the neck, severe headache or weakness.
PILOCARPINUM 30C – given throughout the infection can greatly help to reduce suffering whatever the symptoms, specifically there is usually more sweatiness, saliavtion and weakness with this remedy.
BELLADONNA30C – for sudden onset with redness. Worse right sided pain, sore red throat and shooting pain on swallowing.
PHYTOLACCA 30c – stony hard swellings with inability to swallow anything but especially hot food and drinks.
PULSATILLA 30c – for the later stages of mumps with a weepy, clingy child. Lack of thirst and being worse in a warm room are good indications for Pulsatilla. . It is useful if mumps becomes complicated in an older child and spreads to the breast, ovaries or testes.
Keep away from pregnant women.
Rubella (German measles)
German measles is a mild viral infection. It is highly infectious, and although milder than other diseases, an accurate diagnosis is essential as German Measles is potentially highly dangerous to the unborn child. There is a 50-50 chance of serious birth defects if a woman contracts German measles in the first four months of her pregnancy.
There is an incubation period of 14-21 days and the child is contagious for 7 days before the rash appears. German measles s is spread by droplets in coughs and sneezes.
There may be a mild fever for the 7 days before the rash appears, but often the rash is the first sign, The rash consists of flat, pink spots and starts on the chest or torso before spreading to the face and limbs. The spots merge together making the skin appear flushed. The rash only lasts for about 3 days and complications are rare.
Keep away from pregnant women.
Read the fever section for appropriate remedies.
Influenza is a viral infection which usually lasts about four days. In itself it is not serious, but it can be if secondary infections occur been reduced.
A runny nose and a cough with general lethargy often accompanied by aches and pains and shivering fever with a sore throat. Also nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can occur.
What to do
- Be sympathetic and do everything possible to cheer her up! See ‘LOOKING AFTER A SICK CHILD’ (p. …)
- If possible, try to let the illness run its course without giving the conventional medicine. Children are wonderfully good at coping with this kind of illness. They tend to curl up and sleep, letting their bodies deal with the symptoms naturally.
- If fever becomes very high, cool the child down by removing her clothes and sponging with tepid (not cold) water. If this does not reduce the temperature, contact GP or homeopath.
If the symptoms have come on gradually and there is heaviness, lethargy, feeling of jelly-like legs and heavy eyes, Gelsemium 30c is the remedy to try. Three to four doses over 24 hours. If the symptoms come on very quickly, dramatically, particularly after exposure to a cold wind, where there is an intensity and fearfulness, Aconite 30c may be tried.
To be effective it should be given quickly in the early stages. Another useful influenza remedy is Rhus Toxicodendron 30c. It is often indicated in ailments after getting very wet. Here there is generalised achiness of limbs, restlessness, soreness as if bruised, the tongue large and flabby, possibly with a red, triangular tip.
This is not really an illness or ailment and many babies sail through teething with no particular problems. Teething’ is often used by us as an excuse for any unhappy behaviour in our babies and may not have anything to do with teeth.
Teething usually starts about the age of six months before the appearance of the baby’ s first milk teeth. The onset and progress of teething varies enormously from child to child. New digestive enzymes are introduced with different types of teeth, enabling more advance foods to be processed and digested.
Your baby is likely to chew on their fingers or fist and bite any hard object they can get their hands on. Dribbling is a common symptom and some babies become fretful and clingy with disturbed sleep patterns. Babies may cry quite suddenly in short bursts, for no apparent reason. The cheeks may become flushed or rough, red patches may appear. Stools may be loose and watery.
- A cooled water filled teething ring can be great for chewing on.
- Finger foods are good for older babies – chilled carrot sticks, Bickie pegs (contain no sugar)
- Give CALC PHOS and CALC FLUOR tissue salts throughout a bout of teething.
See your homeopath if teething seems slow or really difficult for your child. Deeper-acting constitutional treatment should help to ease the arrival of teeth.
CHAMOMILLA 30c – extreme irritability, nothing satisfies, a hot and bothered state. Children want to be carried and walked. One or both cheeks may be red. Your child may be furious with the pain and scream loudly and may be worse at night.
Threadworms are common in nursery age children. The presence of threadworms indicates an over acid state in the digestive system. In children this is usually produced by too much sugar in the diet.
A constantly itching bottom, often worse at bedtime, grinding teeth, picking the noes, itchy eyes, nail biting, dark shadows under the eyes, bad breath, restless feet and constant gnawing hunger all indicate threadworms.
- Keep nails short and clean
- Encourage hand washing before and after meals
- Discourage ’fingers in mouth’
- Reduce sugar in the diet
- Put on cotton pyjama bottoms at night
TEUCRIUM 30c – itchy bottom that is worse at night, restless sleep, picking nose, crawling sensation in bottom after stools.
CINA 30c – itchy bottom with extreme irritability, teeth grinding, hunger and dark circles under the eyes.
NAT PHOS 6c – Itchy bottom and over acidity.
Vomiting is unpleasant for your child and for you, but it is an important and effective defence mechanism to rid the body of toxins. Nausea alerts us to the fact that something is not right and children may say that they feel unwell in any part of their bodies.
Infection in any part of the body can cause vomiting in children, but the most common cause is a gastric upset. Children’s digestive systems are much more sensitive than an adults and they may vomit something that may only cause mild queasiness in an adult. Children also vomit easily from emotional upsets and even from excitement.
- Make sure your child has plenty of fluids. If your baby is being breastfed, allow him to feed frequently as your body will naturally provide more thirst-satisfying milk. Remember to drink plenty of spring or filtered water yourself.
- Avoid eating until the vomiting has passed and slowly re-introduce milk, dairy products and fatty foods to the diet. These are harder to digest and full recovery will be slower.
GET MEDICAL HELP IMMEDIATELY
If vomiting is persistent and
- the mouth and eyes are really dry
- If there is loss f normal skin texture, saggy skin
- If the fontanelle appears sunken
- If urine is dark and much reduced.
ARSENICUM ALBUM30c – vomiting with burning in the throat. Often comes on after cold drinks, ice cream or watery fruits. The child is usually worse after midnight with restlessness, anxiety, clinginess and thirst for frequent sips of water. The child may want to be carried fast (just a cuddle is not enough) This is also the classic food poisoning remedy.
NUX VOMICA 30c – the remedy for ‘partied-out’ children. Vomiting after over-indulgence in food and drinks. The child wants to be sick but can’t. Terrible retching, irritability and chilliness. The child usually feels much better for vomiting.
PHOSPHOROUS 30c – vomiting after fright, shock or excitement . Thirsty for lots of cold water that may be vomited as soon as it becomes warm in the stomach.
Whooping cough is a serious disease in children under a year old. Routine immunisation means that whooping cough is now harder to diagnose. A cough that lasts for longer than 3 weeks with retching and vomiting of mucus is often termed ‘asymptomatic whooping cough’ because it doesn’t have the characteristic, chilling whoop. There seems to be an epidemic of whooping-type coughs about every four years.
Whooping cough is a bacterial infection of the respiratory system which causes air passages to become clogged with mucus. Whooping cough has an incubation period of 7-10 days and the child remains infectious for a month or longer.
Whooping cough usually begins with a cough that is accompanied by a clear, watery discharge from the nostrils. After a few days the cough becomes paroxysmal with the child coughing several times on the same breath, which is extremely distressing, causing him to fight for breath. The characteristic ‘whoop’ happens as the child draws air in between coughs. Lack of air in the lungs causes distress, particularly in young babies who seldom acquire the knack of whooping. This child may experience aches and pains in the throat or chest along with the excessive coughing.
Whooping cough is extremely exhausting and debilitating for a small child with vomiting after coughing and inability to sleep because of coughing. Whooping cough can persist for months and possibly have a long term weakening effect on the child’s respiratory system.
Whooping cough can be fatal in rare cases.
- Breastfeed for as long as possible, especially if the baby is not being vaccinated, to provide as much antibody protection as possible
- Colds that always descend to the chest and a history of lung disease in the family show a lung weakness. Constitutional treatment will help to strengthen lung function and build the immune system.
- Seek practical help because caring for a child (or children) with whooping cough can be extremely physically and emotionally draining for the parent.
- See ‘SELF HELP” for ASTHMA and CROUP.
There are many homeopathic remedies for whooping cough and it is best to stay in regular contact with your practitioner throughout the disease to ensure that you are supported with the right remedies.