Minor ailments: overview

Sickness, diarrhoea, reflux

In the first few weeks of your babies’ life they are getting use to feeding, during this time they may be frequently sick. Your baby may possett, this is where your baby will bring up small amounts of milk and they will generally be calm. Vomiting is large amounts of milk and your baby is likely to cry.

What can cause your baby to be sick?

  1. Incorrect feeding position, bottle or breast.
  2. Wrong size teat, if the teat is too large, too much milk will come out for your baby – see our Bottle feeding page
  3. Food allergy
  4. Milk intolerance

Please see your GP for further support if you are concerned about your baby


It’s different from vomiting in babies, where a baby’s muscles forcefully contract. Reflux is your baby effortlessly spitting up whatever they’ve swallowed.

For more information please see:



Diarrhoea is runny poo.

This is more serious in babies than older children due to dehydration from losing too much fluid from their bodies. Diarrhoea is generally caught through ‘bugs’ such as gastroenteritis, and generally follows on from vomiting.

To stop the spread of diarrhoea, keep your child away from others up to 48 hours following the last symptom.

How to treat your toddler or child who has diarrhoea:



When the normal water content of your body is reduced, it upsets the balance of minerals (salts and sugar) in your body, which affects the way it functions. You can become dehydrated following an episode of diarrhoea.

To find out if your baby or child may have dehydration –



What is constipation?

Constipation maybe one or more of these symptoms:

  1. Poo less than three times a week
  2. Poo is often large, hard and difficult to push out
  3. Poo looks like “rabbit droppings” or little pellets
  4. If your child is potty trained and then they start to soil themselves as runny poo may leak out around the hard constipated poo (overflow soiling)
  5. Painful when they have a poo, which may mean your child will not want to go for a poo leading to further constipation
  6. Even if pooing isn’t painful, once your child is really constipated, they may stop wanting to go to the toilet altogether.

If your baby is breastfed they may poo from between 5-40 times a week

If your baby is formula fed they may poo from between 5-28 times a week

For treatment and further advice:


Asthma symptoms treatment

Asthma is a common lung condition that varies in severity, asthma is swelling of the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs; causing breathing difficulties. There are multiple known factors that can cause asthma. Once an allergen is known, the simplest way of reducing asthma is avoiding the allergen. Asthma can run in families, if your child suffers from asthma it is advisable for adults to not smoke in your home or near your child.

If you are worried you or your child has asthma, please see the attached links for further information: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Chicken pox

Chicken pox is the varicella zoster virus. It is very contagious 1-2 days prior to the rash appearing up until rash scabs over usually after 5-6 days. Symptoms can start between 1 to 3 weeks after exposure.

The main symptom of chicken pox is a rash that develops in three stages:

  1. Spots – red raised spots develop on the face or chest before spreading to other parts of the body
  2. Blisters – over the next few hours or the following day, very itchy fluid-filled blisters develop on top of the spots
  3. Scabs and crusts – after a further few days, the blisters dry out and scab over to form a crust; the crusts then gradually fall off by themselves over the next week or two

For further information on symptoms and treatment please access:


Teething symptoms, alleviating symptoms and dental hygiene

Usually your babies teeth start to develop before they are born; your babies’ first teeth are generally known as milk teeth. When the milk teeth start to break through the gums, this is known as ‘teething’ and generally starts around the ages of 4 to 12 months old.

Babies’ bottom front teeth normally come through between 5-7 months followed by the top front teeth between 6-8 months.

For information for teething tips:


Register your baby at your local dentist Register at a dentist

Find your local Pharmacist for over the counter teething treatments

Sticky eye & conjunctivitis

Sticky eye

Do not be alarmed by sticky eye, it is very common in the new born whilst their tear ducts are forming. ‘Sticky eye’ may form in the corner of your babies eye and/or their eye lashes may be stuck together.

How can I help my baby with sticky eye:

  1. Your baby should not be in pain or discomfort with ‘sticky eye’.
  2. Wash your hands before treatment and dry with a clean towel
  3. Boil water and allow to cool
  4. Use one piece of clean cotton wool for each eye, wipe from the corner of the eye by the nose outwards once, if this needs repeating use a clean piece of cotton wool
  5. Clean your hands after treating, using a clean towel to dry your hands
  6. Repeat regularly throughout the day


Conjunctivitis is an eye infection covering the eyeball and inside of the eyelid. The infection is usually caused by one of three reasons: virus or bacterial, allergic reaction or an irritant  (First Steps New Parents Group For new parents and their babies, Institute of Health Visiting Jayne Hollinshead & Keri Christie, 2017)

What does conjunctivitis look like? 

  1. The sticky discharge on your baby or toddlers eye will be yellow / green in colour and will come back regularly.
  2. Eyelids may be swollen
  3. Fever
  4. Maybe sensitive to light

If you think your baby has conjunctivitis please speak to your GP as they may need eye drops prescribed.

Clean your baby or toddlers eye as described above.

Conjunctivitis is contagious so make sure you are applying effective hand washing and your baby or toddler has their own clean towel.

Blocked tear ducts in babies

Babies are sometimes born with under-developed tear ducts. The tear ducts can be completely or partially closed (congenital nasolacrimal duct obstruction) and can cause the baby’s eyes to water. Most blocked tear ducts in babies get better on their own before the baby is one year old.

In some cases, babies with a blocked tear duct can develop eye infections (conjunctivitis). Their eye may be red and have a sticky discharge coming from it. Take your baby to see your GP if you think that they might have an eye infection.

If your baby’s eyes are still watering after the age of one, they may need to have a small procedure done called “probing” to unblock the tear duct. Only a very small number of babies with watering eyes require this type of treatment. See treating watering eyes for more information https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/watering-eyes/

My baby is crying more than normal, what does this mean?

All babies cry, it is one of their ways of communicating with you that they either need something, they are uncomfortable or they want a cuddle.

Why is my baby crying?

  1. Do they need a nappy change
  2. Are they hungry
  3. Too hot, remember baby’s can get to hot therefore do not need to wear a hat inside and typically only one blanket is needed
  4. Too cold
  5. Teething
  6. Is there something else going on, does your baby have colic? (excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy)
  7. Does your baby have reflux
  8. Is your baby’s cry different? Trust your instincts and seek medical advice via GP, Pharmacist or Health Visitor.

For more advice and information around soothing your crying baby: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/soothing-crying-baby.aspx

It is important that you as the parent or carer remain calm when your baby cries, it can be very hard to hear your baby cry, however you must never shake your baby. If you find it difficult to hear your baby cry speak to your partner, family, friend or Health Visitor.

Cry-sis offers information around crying babies Call: 08451228669.


Head lice are the size of a pin head when they hatch and at fully grown to around 3mm.  They are whitish or grey-brown insects.

For further information on what head lice are, and how to treat it: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Head-lice/Pages/introduction.aspx

Speak to you Pharmacist or Health Visitor for further advice.

Burns & scalds

Burns can be caused not only by touching a hot object or too much time in the sun unprotected but by chemicals, electricity or friction. Scalds are caused by hot liquid or steam and are treated in the same manner as a burn. Six toddlers a day are admitted to hospital for treatment of burns.

How to treat a burn:


How to prevent burns: One of the best ways is to go through your home room by room and assess what could burn your baby/toddler or child – see our accident prevention page

Home safety –

Although your new born baby is not crawling or walking, they soon learn to wriggle and kick and it’s not long before they can roll over; which means that they can roll off beds and changing tables.

Here is some advice to prevent your baby being injured:


Umbilical Granuloma

An umbilical granuloma is an overgrowth of tissue during the healing process of the belly button (umbilicus). It usually looks like a soft pink or red lump and often is wet or leaks small amounts of clear or yellow fluid. If there is an umbilical granuloma (infected or not) then contact your GP.

Cradle cap

Cradle cap appears in the new born and can last for a few months

It appears scaly, yellow / brown and can be greasy in appearance. Cradle cap can also be found on the: face, ears, neck, nappy area and armpits, and behind the knees. It will naturally clear up; however you can help reduce the build-up of scales on the scalp:

  • Regular washing of the scalp with a baby shampoo, followed by gentle brushing with a soft brush to loosen scales.
  • Soften the scales with baby oil first, followed by gentle brushing, and then wash off with baby shampoo.
  • Soak the crusts overnight with white petroleum jelly, or vegetable or olive oil, and shampoo in the morning.
  • Do not pick at the scales as this can cause an infection.

If these methods don’t work, speak to your Pharmacist about using a greasy emollient or emulsifying ointment.

Your babies’ hair may fall out with the flaky skin however it will grow back.

For more information please see:


Nappy rash

Nappy rash presents with possible red patches on your baby’s bottom, or the whole area may be red. Their skin may look sore, feel hot to touch, and there may be spots, pimples or blisters.

Most babies with mild nappy rash don’t feel sore, but if the rash is severe your baby may feel uncomfortable and be distressed.

Nappy rash can be caused due to:

  1. prolonged contact with wee and poo
  2. the nappy rubbing against your baby’s skin
  3. not cleaning the nappy area or changing the nappy often enough
  4. soap, detergent or bubble bath
  5. using alcohol-based baby wipes
  6. your baby recently taking antibiotics

For further information on nappy rash and how to treat please see:


Baby acne

Is a group of pimples that can develop on your babies’ cheeks, nose and forehead within the first month, and normally clear within a few weeks. On occasion they get worse before healing.

Washing your baby’s face with water and a mild moisturiser can improve the appearance of their skin.

Avoid acne medicines intended for older children and adults.

If pimples or blackheads develop after three months of age (infantile acne) they may be more severe therefore speak to your local Pharmacist or GP. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/skin-rash-babies/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush in babies and young children is a fungal infection in the mouth oral thrush is usually harmless and is easily treatable.


Oral thrush is caused by a yeast fungus called candida albicans.

It is normal to have this fungus in your mouth and it doesn’t normally cause problems. But it can overgrow and infect the membranes in the mouth.

Babies are at an increased risk of oral thrush because their immune systems haven’t yet fully developed and are less able to resist infection. This is particularly the case with babies born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy).

Oral thrush can also affect babies if they’ve recently been treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics reduce the levels of healthy bacteria in your baby’s mouth, which can allow fungus levels to increase.

If you’re breastfeeding and have been taking antibiotics for an infection, the levels of healthy bacteria in your body can be affected. This can also make you prone to a thrush infection that may then be passed to your baby during breastfeeding. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/oral-thrush-in-babies/

Treatment see: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/oral-thrush-in-babies/


Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common form of eczema, a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked.

Atopic eczema causes the skin to become itchy, dry, cracked, sore and red. Some people only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body.

To find out how to treat eczema and for further information:


Erythema toxicum

Is very common, appearing as a blotchy red skin reaction usually at two or three days old, this should not bother your baby and will clear in a few days.


Meningitis is very serious and needs to be treated quickly. It can be caused by either a virus or bacteria.

Meningitis can lead onto septicaemia (blood poisoning) which is life-threatening.

A classic symptom of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, but this doesn’t appear in many cases.

You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you’re concerned about yourself or your child. Trust your instincts and don’t wait until a rash develops

Symptoms can develop very quickly.

Babies and young children are most vulnerable as they cannot tell you their symptoms. If you are worried about meningitis call 999 or attend A&E immediately. If you are not sure if your child is seriously unwell contact 111 or your GP.


For more information on symptoms of meningitis please access: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Meningitis/Pages/Symptoms.aspx


You can find and download this leaflet by visiting the Meningitis Research Foundation below.


Sepsis is a rare but serious complication of an infection.

Without quick treatment, sepsis can lead to multiple organ failure and death.


Sepsis symptoms in children under five


Go straight to A&E or call 999 if your child has any of these symptoms:

  • looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • feels abnormally cold to touch
  • is breathing very fast
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • has a fit or convulsion

Further information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sepsis/

Further information

Further information on minor ailments, advice and treatments on: Fever, febrile seizures, cough, common cold, earache and croup

To find out about local health services within Lewisham including the GP extended access service: http://www.lewishamccg.nhs.uk/your-health/Pages/-.aspx

Your LOCAL Pharmacy first team can help with treatment of minor ailments: http://www.lewishamccg.nhs.uk/your-health/Pages/Pharmacy-First.aspx

Download the Lullaby Baby check App https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/baby-check-app/ ‘Baby Check features 19 simple checks that parents can do if their baby is showing signs of illness. Download for FREE from Google Play or the App Store.’

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