OME CHILDHOOD ailments still defy explanation, or are the subject of heated discussion in the GP’s waiting room or playground. Colic is the umbrella term given to unexplained infant crying and fussing, usually from birth to three months. No-one has a nailed-on explanation or a cure. The main symptoms are cramping and moaning for long periods. Colic is thought to be related to feeding, though there is probably no single exp la - nation. Incidence of colic in breastfed babies is only half that among bottle-fed counterparts — and lactating mothers might try avoiding onions, brassicas, cow’s milk and chocolate, as these have been shown to be problematic to some babies. Stomach massage and anti-colic medication is also available. In five per cent of cases, there is an underlying illness, so see your GP if your baby appears colicky for more than a day or two. However in most cases, the only cure is time. Most symptoms disappear by the time the baby is three to four months old. This childhood disease has been in the news lately with outbreaks in the North East of England and Wales. Until, a few years ago it was thought that measles had been eradicated, but following the nowdiscredited research of Dr Andrew Wakefield associating the MMR measles vaccine with autism, many parents were scared to vaccinate children. If your children have not been vaccinated, there is a chance they will get measles. Initial symptoms are cold- or flu- like, with sensitivity to light, fever and greyish-white spots in the mouth. After a few days, a red-brown rash will appear. In most cases, the child will make a full recovery after a week or two, but in rare instances measles can lead to blindness and, with complications, even death. If your child has not been vaccinated, medical advice is to see your GP immediately. Whooping cough is associated with young children, but can affect anybody of any age. Although it is now uncommon among infants because of immunisation, some older children do still get the infection, as the effectiveness of the vaccine can decline over time. The infection is caused by a bacterium called bortedella pertussis. Symptoms are distressing both to the parent and child. Bouts of choking coughing carry on for several minutes, sometimes interspersed with wheezing as the child struggles for breath. While there can be serious complications in some cases, the vast majority of kids make a full — if slow — recovery. Acne is the curse of many teenagers and mostly consists of a few embarrassing pimples that disappear with the help of a lotion such as Clearasil. However, there are more severe, disfiguring cases which may need medical intervention. So if teenagers are developing larger, angry-looking spots, known as papules or pustules, they might need prescription medications. These include antibiotic tablets to attack spot-inducing bacteria, as well as stronger topical treatments. There are also hormonal treatments for women with acne.
Do not apply toothpaste to the spots — it can dry the area, but it may also irritate; do not give in to the temptation to squeeze a blackhead; avoid washing the face more than twice a day as frequent washing irritates skin and keep hair washed and away from the face.