Immunisations and common childhood illnesses: May'13

Tags: children

Dawn has worked in the healthcare profession for over 20 years. 10 years of which were as a Registered Sick Children's Nurse caring for sick neonates as well as older babies and children.

AXA PPP asked: Welcome to our live chat on immunisations and common childhood illnesses, with expert Dawn Kelly. Please ask a question when you are ready...

Heather asked: Can you tell me some information on 'fifth' disease and are there any treatments available for this?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Hello Heather, Fifth disease is actually a viral infection that often starts with flu like symptoms and a rash (often a red rash on the face). The rash can spread to arms and trunk. Some children also get joint pain. As it is viral there is no use giving antibiotics. You need to treat the symptoms with age appropriate pain killers and manage the fever with cool clothing and paracetamol.

fiona asked: Hi there - my nephew has very dry skin. He is only 2 months old so we're reluctant to use many products on him. What is a good natural solution?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Hello Fiona, Sorry to hear that your nephew has dry skin. One of the simplest ointments to use and often recommended my dermatologists is 50/50 liquid parafin in soft white parafin. It's not expensive and is available over the counter. Try not to bath him too often (just nappy change) as bathing can dry the skin further and use just plain water as some bath products contain allergens and substances that can dry the skin even 'baby', 'organic' and 'sensitive' products.

fiona commented: Thanks, will def recommend liquid parafin option. My sister in law has tried a little olive oil - is this any use?

Ruth asked: My friends daughter had the shingles on her face and under her eyelids and it was pretty bad. Can shingles have long lasting effects or is all fine once it's gone away?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Hello Ruth, Oh your poor friends daughter! That sounds very uncomfortable. There is usually no lasting long term effects of shingles. Although she can catch them again unfortunately, just like anyone else.

Heather asked: You often find that nurseries and schools are breeding grounds for child illnesses. Is there anyway you can reduce your child's risk of picking up an illness that might be somewhat of an epidemic at their nursery or school?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Hi Heather, Once children start nursery or school they are suddenly exposed to a lot more bugs. Teach your child good handwashing especially after using the toilet, playing outside etc. The most important protection of course is to ensure his immunisations are kept up to date!

LazyGirlBlog asked: Hi. My son has asthma due to prematurity. Can hay fever irritate this? He has been having very bad episodes of coughing at night for a number of weeks now. A fellow parent suggested it may be down to hay fever season?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Asthma can have many triggers. It is sometimes quite tricky to find out exactly what these triggers are for each child. Some children it can be stress, pet dander, tree pollen etc. If you've noticed his asthma worsening then it does suggest that there maybe a seasonal link. If he is coughing a lot more than usual and is wheezy more than usual it may be a good idea to have him reviewed.

LazyGirlBlog commented: Thank you, I think we will ask the GP to re-refer him to his consultant, but yes, it has started right as hay fever season has started so think the link is there.

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: It's actually quite useful to discover a link as then you can be prepared and manage his asthma more effectively.

PaulineM asked: My 18 month old has an almost constant cold. We give her calpol when her temperature is high but can you suggest anything to prevent her from catching further colds?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Hello Pauline, Sorry to hear that your daughter has a permanent cold. To be honest it is surprising that we don't all have permanent colds as there are over a hundred different viruses that cause colds. There is little you can do other than to ensure good hand hygiene and treat the cold (paracetamol for her high temp as you are doing). On a positive note she'll have built up a far amount of resistance to coughs and colds before she starts school!!

ToybuzzUK asked: My 5yr old has gone from having a nasty tummy bug last weekend, to now being very constipated. He's been in tears the last 2 days on the toilet. What can I do to help? I've ben making sure he has lots of water, but is there anything else

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Oh no poor little thing!! Giving extra water often just makes them wee a bit more although it is important that he is well hydrated so keep up the liquids. Try giving him some fruits such as apricots and prunes but go gently. Also orange juice to drink (not from concentrate). If he remains constipated after a few days take him to the GP.

ToybuzzUK commented: thank you. I'll try some apricots and orange juice today

Deborah asked: Two of my boys have a bad reaction to suncream. There seems to be differing opinions on what's causing this; prickly heat, cream allergy, reaction to the sun...What are your thoughts? What helps?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: I'm assuming they have a rash to ALL suncreams? Have you tried putting a bit of cream on when it is not warm or sunny (or indoors)? If they get a rash, then it is likely to be caused by an allergen in the suncream. If it doesn't then it is more likely to be prickly heat. If it is an allergen you need to find out which one by going to a dermatology clinic that offers 'patch testing'. If it is prickly heat - caused by blocked sweat glands then you need to keep your boys cool in cotton clothing and in the shade as much as possible - not an easy task with 2 boisterous boys!!

GB1970 asked: My daughter has large tonsils and has had two bouts of tonsillitis each winter for the past two years. Both cleared with antibiotics and I understand the rational for not removing the tonsills. Do you have any suggestions to help avoid tonsillitis in the first place / reduce the imapct of tonsillitis?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Hello, tonsillitis can be quite painful so I really feel for you & your daughter. As the infection can be caused by both bacteria and viruses it is difficult to avoid. The usual actions to prevent germs spreading such as handwashing etc are very important for her.

tforsure asked: I might be opening a can of worms but what is the latest on immunisations and autism?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: The report that was in the papers back in the 1990's suggesting a link between MMR and autism and bowel disease has since been completely discredited. There is no evidence that MMR can make a child chronically ill. It is a very safe and effective vaccine.

tforsure commented: Great to know - thank you!

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Your welcome!!

Katlyn asked: If vaccinated children are in school with unvaccinated children, what are the possible adverse outcomes?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: I'm not too sure what you are asking here... Some children cannot be vaccinated for various reasons. However, if a large group of children are vaccinated then that can offer what is known as 'herd immunity' thus giving some protection to those that cannot be vaccinated.

Mummy Fever asked: I am concerned about the outbreak of measles recently - what protection is there available for new borns?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Newborns have what is known as 'passive immunity'. Antibodies are transferred from the placenta to the baby during the last 3 months of pregnancy. Further antibodies are passed via breast feeding. The immunity from Rubella, Mumps and Measles usually lasts a year that is why the first MMR is given shortly after the baby's first birthday.


If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to childhood illnesses, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?

Anonymous64 asked: What natural things I can do to reduce my daughters hayfever?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Chamomile tea is reputed to relieve hay fever symptoms. Some herbalists suggest smearing chamomile and lemon oil on a tissue and inhaling to prevent hay fever symptoms.
Ginger tea and raw honey is believed to break up chest congestion and loosen phlegm. It supposedly strengthens the immune system and acts as a natural antihistamine.
Green tea is said to block the production of histamine and is believed to be one of the best homemade remedies for building the immune system.
Peppermint tea is said to relieve nasal and sinus congestion. Drink it cold to sooth coughing associated with hay fever and allergies.

Mummy Fever asked: If newborns have passive immunity to these illnesses why not to things such as whooping cough as pregnant women are being vaccinated against this in order to offer the baby some protection.

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: They do!! That's exactly what is happening with whooping cough - it is being given to the pregnant woman in order for them to 'passively immunise' their newborn.

AXA PPP asked: Thanks to everyone who has asked a question, if you have anymore questions to ask we have 45 minutes left with our expert...

Cherisse asked: My son is six months-old and has eczema on his face which has been infected twice in two months. He has been prescribed a seven-day course of Erythromycin suspension twice and antibiotic cream Fucidin once. It is proving very difficult to clear this infection and I am not over confident in my GP. Can you suggest any different treatments and can I ask my GP to refer us to a specialist?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Hi Cherisse, sorry to hear about your son's eczema - it does sound sore! You have been given the usual treatment for infected eczema. However, he needs to have the eczema treated too. Ask your GP to refer you to a dermatologist who can advise on the best treatment for eczema and how to prevent the recurrent infections.

Ammie asked: My 5 year-old son had a chest infection three weeks ago. His voice has changed and it sounds like he is losing his voice and it still groggy. Will it go back to normal?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Acute laryngitis (throat infection) that probably occurred alongside your son's chest infection is the most common cause of hoarseness and voice loss that starts suddenly. Most cases of acute laryngitis are caused by a viral infection that leads to swelling of the vocal cords. When the vocal cords swell, they vibrate differently, leading to hoarseness. The best treatment for this condition is to stay well hydrated and to rest or reduce your voice use. It should soon return to normal.

Anonymous65 asked: If parents of vaccinated children are concerned about their kids being in school with unvaccinated children, what can those parents do?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered:
What are those concerns?

Mummy Fever asked: I'm sorry, I must be missing something as I am not clear on the passive immunity thing. I am nearly 37 weeks pregnant, I have been vaccinated against whooping cough this pregnancy and I understand why, despite the fact that I had the illness as a child. However, pregnant women are not being vaccinated against measles so where does the passive immunity come from in that case?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: The MMR cannot be given to pregnant women.
All antibodies are different. In your case you may still have whooping cough antibodies - I'm unsure as to how rapidly they are depleted. Whereas most ladies will no longer have these antibodies in their immune system but will have the measles, mumps, rubella provided they had the immunisations in youth. If they didn't then they should be vaccinated prior to pregnancy (if planned). Catching any of these diseases during pregnancy can be dangerous. I'm not an immunologist so I can't explain in a great deal of depth but hope this gives some clarification.

Thomas asked: My kids seem like they are always sick. How do I keep them from getting sick so often?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: Generally good hand washing after the toilet, before meals, after playing out, after blowing nose, etc, etc!! Also ensure a good balances diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Consider a vitamin & mineral supplement but don't let this substitute good eating habits!

fiona asked: What kind of foods help calm children's skin? And can any aggravate it?

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor answered: There's a lot of debate around foods and skin 'allergies'. If you suspect that your child responds adversely to some foods then keep a food diary. Eliminate that food for a while and then gradually introduce it and observe for any differences. Processed foods are more likely to be problematic due to the various additives etc. Any skin irritation can also be caused by products on the skin, bath lotions, moisturisers, soaps, washing solutions etc.

If your child as dry skin or prone to eczema then only bath once a week in plain water (no bubbles) and apply a simple ointment such as 50/50 liquid parafin in soft white parafin - it's available over the counter and inexpensive.

AXA PPP asked: Thanks to everyone who joined our live chat today and special thanks to our expert Dawn Kelly.

Dawn Kelly Independent Health Visitor commented:
My pleasure!


If you missed our live chat and have any further questions relating to childhood illnesses, then why not ask our panel of experts a question?


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