As a pediatrician, I get asked many questions by parents concerned about their child’s well-being. In particular, parents ask me about the safe use of over-the-counter medicines. While some parents may feel alone in their worries, the questions I receive are often very similar and easily addressed. Here are four questions I commonly get asked by parents and my tips on how you can help keep your child happy and healthy.
1) In what circumstance should I give my child a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and how can I make sure I administer the proper dose?
If your child is in apparent discomfort, pain relievers can be used to relieve symptoms. Common reasons to give your child a pain reliever are for easing discomfort from an ear infection or teething. Make sure you give your child the proper dose by following these smart safety rules:
Always consult your doctor if you are unsure that a certain type of pain reliever is appropriate for your child’s symptoms and/or age. For example, OTC cough and cold medications (including cough suppressants, cough expectorants and multi-symptom cold medicines) are not recommended for infants and young children.
2) Should I give my child a daily multivitamin? Are there any concerns I should be aware of?
Most children don’t need supplements and can get all the nutrients they need with a well-balanced, healthy diet. Parents can ensure their children are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need by sticking to the choosemyplate.gov recommended daily servings and food groups. However, in certain cases, your child may benefit from taking a taking a multivitamin or vitamin supplement:
Note that it is important to talk to your pediatrician before giving any vitamin supplements to your child to make sure it will be beneficial and there is no risk of overdose. Excessive amounts of vitamins, such as vitamins A, C or D, can produce symptoms, such as nausea, rashes or headaches.
3) How should I treat my child’s cut and how do I know if he needs stitches?
Children are very prone to cuts and scrapes. Minor cuts and scrapes can usually be treated at home. But sometimes a trip to the doctor or hospital is necessary. Proper care is critical to reduce the risk of infection and help ensure the wound heals quickly. Follow these simple steps to properly treat your child’s cut or scrape:
If a cut is large or very deep, stitches may be needed. Your child’s wound should be evaluated as soon as possible, ideally within a few hours to reduce the risk of infection and minimize scarring. Significant cuts that involve the hands, face, chest, abdomen or head may also affect future function and appearance or be indicative of other associated injury to deeper parts of the body. As a result, it is a good idea to have your child evaluated as soon as possible.
4) What is the best way to treat diaper rash?
While diaper rashes can have many different causes, these easy remedies can help relieve common symptoms:
Note that you should never use an OTC topical pain reliever or topical medication containing hydrocortisone on a child with diaper rash unless instructed by your doctor. If used incorrectly, it can make your child’s symptoms worse or cause other side effects.
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