Minor ailments A-Z


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

Further information on asthma


Baby acne

This 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, so speak to your local pharmacist or GP

Further information on baby acne


Blocked tear ducts

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.

Further information on watering eyes 


Burns and scalds

Burns can be caused by touching a hot object, too much unprotected time in the sun, chemicals, electricity or friction. Scalds are caused by hot liquid or steam and are treated in the same way as a burn. Six toddlers a day are admitted to hospital for treatment of burns. One of the best ways to prevent burns is to go through your home room by room and assess what could burn your baby/toddler or child.

How to treat a burn


Chicken pox

Chicken pox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It is very contagious one to two days prior to the rash appearing up until rash scabs over, usually after five to six days. Symptoms can start one to three 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.

Further information on symptoms and treatment.



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? (First Steps New Parents Group For new parents and their babies, Institute of Health Visiting Jayne Hollinshead & Keri Christie, 2017)

  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.



Symptoms of constipation include:

  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.

Further information on constipation


Cradle cap

Cradly cap appears in newborn babies 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 clear up on its own, but you can help reduce the build-up of scales on the scalp by: 

  • 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 baby’s hair may fall out with the flaky skin but will grow back.

Further information on cradle cap



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. Soiled nappy
  2. Hungry
  3. Too hot – remember, if you baby was born full term and is healthy they do not need to wear a hat while inside
  4. Too cold
  5. Teething
  6. Colic
  7. Reflux
  8. Is your baby’s cry different? Trust your instincts and seek medical advice via GP, pharmacist or health visitor.

Further information on crying

It is important that you as the parent or carer remain calm when your baby cries. If you find this difficult, speak to your partner, family, friend or health visitor. 

Cry-sis offers information around crying babies on 08451228669.



Babies and children can become dehydrated following an episode of diarrhoea.

Further information on dehydration



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 caused by conditions 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.

Further information on diarrhoea



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

Some babies only have small patches of dry skin, but others may experience widespread red, inflamed skin all over the body.

Further information on eczema


Erythema toxicum

This skin condition 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.


Head lice

Head lice and nits are very common in young children. They don't have anything to do with dirty hair and are usually picked up from head-to-head contact. They are the size of a pin head when they hatch and grow to around 3mm. They are whitish or grey-brown insects.

Further information on dealing with head lice

Speak to your pharmacist or health visitor for further advice.


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.

Advice on home safety



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

Further information on meningitis 


Nappy rash

Nappy rash can appear as 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 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

Further information on nappy rash


Oral thrush

Oral thrush is a fungal infection in the mouth. It is usually harmless and easily treatable.

Causes: 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.

Further information on oral thrush



Reflux is your baby effortlessly spitting up whatever they've swallowed, as opposed to vomiting, where a baby's muscles forcefully contract.

Further information on reflux



During the first few weeks of your baby's life they are getting use to feeding, and may be frequently sick. Your baby may possett – bring up small amounts of milk – but will generally remain calm. If they vomit – bring up large amounts of milk – they are more 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 feeding your baby at home
  3. Food allergy
  4. Milk intolerance

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


Sticky eye

Do not be alarmed by sticky eye – it is very common in newborn babies while their tear ducts are forming. Sticky eye may form in the corner of your baby's 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



Usually your baby's teeth start to develop before they are born; your baby's first teeth are 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 four to 12 months old. 

Babies' bottom front teeth normally come through between five to seven months followed by the top front teeth between six to eight months.

Further information on teething

Register your baby at your local dentist.

Find your local pharmacist for over the counter teething treatments.


Umblilical 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 your baby has an umbilical granuloma, see your GP.

To find out about local health services in Lewisham, access the Lewisham CCG website.