There are times when you should head straight to the doctor or ER, but some minor ailments you can treat at home. Make sure to check with their pediatrician if you have questions or concerns that it is something bigger.
CUTS AND SCRAPES
With families spending more time indoors during the pandemic, more accidents are happening at home, says Dr. Krol. “There are more cuts and bruises from kids running around the house and hitting corners of tables. Make sure you toddler-proof your home.” When an injury causes a break in the skin, it must be disinfected immediately.
Cleansing the area with soap and water or directly applying peroxide will keep infection at bay and wash away debris. When does a cut warrant a trip to the doctor? “One of the best ways to know is if you’re not able to stop the bleeding relatively quickly, so if after 10 minutes of pressure it’s still bleeding, but fingertips and foreheads are so vascular that they will bleed quite a bit,” Dr. Krol says. To help heal minor wounds, try these natural healing antiseptics: “For cuts, apply honey or turmeric directly. Turmeric is good for calming the inflammation and fighting pain, and honey can help with scarring,” says Dr. Nadia Musavvir, who specializes in naturopathic medicine. While you can always purchase a turmeric balm, it’s simple to make one yourself
HEADACHES AND MUSCLE PAIN
When it comes to headaches and sports injuries, most of us reach for over the counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. But to help keep them at bay, make sure your kids are getting the water their body needs; dehydration causes headaches ranging from mild to severe. If head pain is the result of a bang to the head, it’s necessary to rule out the possibility of concussion. “There’s no such thing as a minor concussion. We must protect our kids’ brains. Err on the side of caution in all but the most minor of head injuries… Absolutely go to the doctor for head injury if your child is an infant, when there’s loss of consciousness, for a severe headache that won’t stop, neck pain, vomiting that occurs more than once, and when a child won’t awaken easily, becomes hard to comfort, irritable, or isn’t walking or talking normally,” says Dr. Krol.
To combat mild pain naturally, give peppermint oil a try. Peppermint oil, which contains menthol, is a surprisingly powerful pain reducer that works well to tame headaches. Dr. Musavvir suggests massaging peppermint oil (diluted with a carrier oil) directly onto the temples for pain relief. Magnesium, which can be taken orally as a supplement or used topically in a cream, is useful for both easing headaches and relaxing sore muscles. Epsom salt baths, CBD balms, and turmeric (taken orally) are also safe and helpful to decrease aches and pains from muscle injuries.
TUMMY TROUBLES AND FOOD POISONING
No matter the cause, vomiting and diarrhea take a big toll on our children’s little bodies. Easing symptoms and preventing dehydration is really all parents can do while a stomach virus (or bout of food poisoning) runs its course. It’s good to keep a bottle of rehydration fluid/electrolyte solution on hand, as well as bland, easy-to-digest foods like crackers, Dr. Krol says.
Watch out for these dehydration signs that may warrant a trip to the doctor: decreased urine output/urine with a dark yellow color or no urination in eight hours bloody stool weakness/dizziness dry mouth sunken eyes and lack of tears sunken anterior fontanelle (the soft spot on top of the head) in babies Nature has plenty to offer when it comes to assuaging tummy troubles. “For gas, peppermint, ginger and fennel are all considered carminative (gas-reducing) herbs which aid in digestion. For food poisoning, activated charcoal capsules bind to the toxins creating the discomfort and pull them out,” Dr. Musavvir says.
BURNS AND BRUISES
Burns are a common injury, and while scary for kids, most minor burns can be treated at home. First, run cool water over the affected area for 15-20 minutes, then assess the severity of the burn. Antibiotic ointments can be used to prevent infections. Dr. Krol says burns that are red and dry can be treated at home; if blisters are present, they should be intact and less than ó inch in size. Burns that look infected when healing (spreading redness/red streaks, pus, swelling or pain that doesn’t go away over time) warrant a trip to the doctor. “Contact a doctor for eye and eyelid burns, if a burn goes all the way around the arm or leg and for burns caused by acid, electrical, explosives/gunpowder or house fires- there’s a concern for inhalation injury,” Dr. Krol says.
For first degree burns, like sunburn (which can be prevented with sunscreen or a long-sleeved shirt), natural remedies like honey and aloe vera, directly from the plant or purchased in gel-form are extremely healing when applied topically, Dr. Musavvir says. “Honey’s antimicrobial and antibacterial properties make it great for healing. Aloe is soothing and also improves wound healing.” Ice is a great way to reduce swelling for bumps and bruises. Dr. Musavvir recommends using arnica topically or orally to decrease inflammation and bruising.
ITCHES AND ALLERGIES
To decrease itching from bites and poison ivy, peppermint essential oil (mixed in a carrier oil) or bentonite clay are useful, Dr. Musavvir says. For kids who suffer from seasonal allergies, non-prescription antihistamines like diphenhydramine are pediatrician approved standbys, or you can try one of many effective natural remedies.
“A few drops of stinging nettle tincture in your water blocks histamine receptors, as do peppermint and ginger. Flavonoids and antioxidants such as quercetin (found in onions, green leafy vegetables, and apple skins) inhibit the release of histamine. Vitamin C from foods like strawberries also lowers histamines and helps with allergies,” Dr. Musavvir says.
Parents should be mindful of secondary infections when kids get insect bites. “We have seen quite a bit of bites that are getting infected when kids scratch them a lot. If kids are bitten by mosquitoes, put something on the bite that is helpful to prevent itching, like hydrocortisone cream. Also, kids’ hands aren’t always the cleanest so emphasize hand-washing and cutting kids nails,” Dr. Krol says.
Combining natural remedies with traditional medicine allows parents to access the best of both worlds. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so choose what works best for your family, and remember to top it off with some TLC.
A HOLISTIC APPROACH
Many health issues can be effectively treated with a holistic approach. Dr. Nadia Musavvir, ND says these natural home remedies pack a powerful punch:
- Honey: apply directly to cuts, scrapes and burns to heal and decrease scarring
- Calendula: use topically for cuts and swelling
- Peppermint Essential Oil*: put a few drops in water for nausea, allergies and headaches; can be applied topically for headaches, muscle aches and insect bites
- Magnesium: use topically or orally for headaches and muscle/body aches
- Turmeric: apply as a balm to calm inflammation on cuts, scrapes and bites; topically and orally for muscle aches and pains
- Aloe Vera: apply directly to sunburn and other burns to heal and soothe
- Stinging Nettle: use a tea or tincture to help with allergies
- Quercetin: take orally for allergies
- Ginger: fresh or as a tincture for allergies and nausea/bloating
- Fennel: take orally to aid in digestion
- Castor oil: apply topically (never orally) for nausea/bloating
- Arnica (homeopathic): use topically or orally for bruises
- Activated Charcoal: take 1-2 500mg capsules for food poisoning
- Hypericum Perforatum (homeopathic): take orally for smashed fingers/shooting pain
- Apis (homeopathic): use to calm swelling from insect bites and allergies
- Bentonite Clay: use as a paste over insect bites to draw out toxins
- Epsom Salts: use in a bath for muscle aches and pains
- CBD Balms: use topically for muscle aches and pains
- Oatmeal Bath: relieves itching from poison ivy
*Peppermint Essential Oil: If rubbing essential oils over a large area, dilute in a carrier oil. For spot relief, you can apply the oil directly. Castor oil is a great anti inflammatory agent that absorbs well into the skin and should not be taken orally.