Common Childhood Illnesses

As your child develops and grows they will likely be exposed to a variety of conditions and illnesses, such as head-lice, gastro symptoms, respiratory conditions and more.

Many of these conditions may be prevented, limited or treated at home, but more serious or persisting presentations can require consulting with a health care professional.

Some of the common ones are listed below. Visit our facebook page for more updates on common childhood ailments!

Cough and colds

Coughs in both adults and children are generally a way for the body to remove foreign particles of mucus, however the type of cough can help reveal more about what is happening. A cough with mucus for example can be a sign of a respiratory infection such as bronchitis. In severe and persistent cases it can be a symptom of conditions such as croup or whooping cough.

For children under 6 years there are limited options on cough syrups that can help for coughs. Talk to your pharmacist for more information.

Sore throat

A painful inflammation or irritation of the throat, most often caused by the common cold or allergies, however some cases can be caused by more serious bacterial infections such as strep throat. Depending on the degree of pain and inflammation some cases will require assessment from a medical professional.

Common treatment for this type of pain are paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Ear Pain

Pain in the ear for children may be a sign of an ear infection, often they occur along with cold symptoms, including fever or a cough, that have been present for a few days. If you think your child may have an ear infection you should seek medical advice.

Ibuprofen and paracetamol can help alleviate the pain but in some cases antibiotics are required.


A fever is a high temperature generally measured over 38°C, normal body temperature ranges between 36.5°C -37.5°C. A fever is a normal response by the child to an infection, and often resolves by itself.

If the fever persists, leads to dehydration, or the fever isn’t controllable with medication or light clothing/fluids, then you should seek medical advice.

Any baby under 3 months with a fever and any child with floppiness, drowsiness/stiff body, confusion, who develops a rash or has a fit, should seek medical attention immediately.

Common treatment for fever are paracetamol and ibuprofen.

If in doubt contact your health care professional.


The most common cause of gastroenteritis in children is a viral infection, it generally starts as feeling unwell but can quickly result in nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Treatment generally involves making sure the child stays hydrated, and making sure everyone is conscious of hygiene.

It can be a serious issue when the child is not able to hold down any fluids, or can’t stay hydrated due to the degree of diarrhoea or vomiting, in such cases the child should be taken to the doctor.

The most common treatment for dehydration are oral rehydration fluids, such as Hydralyte.


A rash is a redness of the skin or small bumps on the skin and can be due to allergy responses, heat, infection or damage (such as a nappy rash, or other friction rash).

Infections for children can include Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, Chickenpox, or Impetigo/School-sores among others.

In most cases a minor rash will clear up by itself, but if it persists, becomes more severe or you are worried you should seek medical advice. There are some creams and lotions available to help treat the rash or itch depending on the cause.

Head Lice

Head lice are tiny insects that live in human hair, they spread via head-to-head contact and are particularly common in young children. All types of hair can be affected and it has nothing to do with hygiene or having dirty hair.

Lice and their eggs can sometimes be quite difficult to see and can cause the scalp to become quite itchy/irritated. It can be treated by medicated or natural sprays and lotions (Neutralice, KP24, etc), or by a combing method with a special comb. Visit Blue Cross Pharmacy for further information.


Threadworm are tiny, parasitic, worms that hatch eggs and infect the large intestines. They are spread when hands aren’t properly washed, (particularly under the nails) after going to the toilet and afterwards hand to mouth contact occurs, either directly or via food. It is possible to reinfect yourself, as well as infecting others, so care needs to be taken even when treating the infection with medication. As hygiene plays such a large role in its spread it means it is particularly common in young children.

Symptoms generally involve a itchy bottom, irritability, reduced appetite and trouble sleeping.

Treatment is available over the counter at the pharmacy and all people in the household should be treated. Special precautions exist for children under 2 and pregnant women.


*This article is not a substitute for independent professional advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for your own health professional’s advice. Consult a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your individual medical situation

It is intended to be used for general information and educational purposes only