The Essential Guide to Your Child's Health

Home Remedies, Food Allergies, Mood Red Flags

Doctor-Approved Home Remedies

Cuts and Scrapes
Treatment: Gently clean the wound with water to remove debris, and pat dry. To stop bleeding, apply continuous pressure for five minutes. Use an antibacterial ointment on the wound, and cover with a bandage.
Call Your Doctor If: The wound is a more than a quarter inch deep or an inch long, is gaping open, or is on the face.

Itchy Bug Bites
Treatment: Reduce skin irritation with calamine lotion or an oral or topical antihistamine.
Call Your Doctor If: The red area is bigger than a golf ball and has a black center or the bite grows larger over a period of several days. "In that case, it could be the bite of a brown recluse spider, which is more toxic than other spiders," Dr. Harbaugh says.

Treatment: Cool superficial burns with cold water -- not ice, which can damage tissue. Pat dry, and apply a sterile bandage. "Don't pop blisters; this can introduce bacteria," says AAP member Norman Harbaugh, M.D., an Atlanta pediatrician. "That blister is acting as the skin's own bandage."
Go to the E.R. If: The burned area has many blisters; skin is white or charred; there's considerable pain and swelling; the burned area is large; the burn was caused by chemicals or electricity; or the burn is on the hands or face.

Bee Stings
Treatment: Scrape out the stinger from the side using something with a flat edge, like a credit card. Wash the area to remove venom, and run the wound under cold water if swelling develops. For itching or irritation, use an oral or topical antihistamine or a hydrocortisone cream.
Go to the E.R. If: Your child has a severe allergic reaction -- for instance, she has trouble breathing or her throat swells up.

What You Need to Know About Food Allergies

Food allergies affect up to 8 percent of kids younger than 3. Before you give your toddler that PB&J sandwich, read on.

My 18-month-old gets a few hives on his face when I give him eggs, but it's not a severe reaction. Should I keep feeding him eggs?
It's not a good move. "Giving a child more of a food that's causing a reaction cannot desensitize him to that food," says Michael Welch, M.D., chair of the AAP's Section on Allergy and Immunology. "In fact, it may put him at greater risk for a more severe response. It's a better idea to stop giving eggs to your child and reintroduce them in six to 12 months to see whether he can handle them better."

When my 3-year-old drinks milk, he gets a stomachache. Does that mean he's allergic?
Not necessarily. Stomach upset is a symptom of both a milk allergy and a milk intolerance. An allergy involves the immune system, so there will usually be other symptoms such as wheezing or a rash; an intolerance is simply a gastrointestinal reaction. For an intolerance, drinking milk with food can help alleviate symptoms.

I grew up eating peanut butter, but I'm afraid to give it to my 2-year-old. Am I just being neurotic?
Not at all. Peanut allergies can be severe, so you're smart to be cautious. If your child has a sibling with a peanut allergy or you have a family history of food allergies, eczema, asthma, or hay fever, wait until your child is 3 to give her peanut butter and other peanut products. If there's no history of allergy, it's fine to introduce peanut butter after she turns 2.

Do kids outgrow food allergies?
It depends. Peanut allergies are usually not outgrown. But milk and egg allergies typically are, Dr. Welch says.

More Than Just a Bad Mood?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 21 percent of U.S. kids ages 9 to 17 suffer from some mental or addictive disorder -- and problems often start when children are much younger. We asked the experts to define the common mental-health disorders in kids and to point out the red flags parents can't ignore.

Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, are the most common mental illnesses that affect children.
Red Flags: Different disorders have different symptoms. With generalized anxiety disorder, for example, you may notice your child worrying excessively over everyday events. A kid with social anxiety may have difficulty going to birthday parties. While worry is unavoidable, your child has a more serious problem if anxiety is impairing her life -- for example, she's so nervous and uncomfortable at school that she isn't making friends or performing well.

Six percent of kids suffer from depression, a disorder characterized by moodiness, sadness, and irritability.
Red Flags: Social or behavioral changes that occur every day for two weeks are top warning signals. For example, a once-outgoing kid may become introverted; an easygoing child may act increasingly prickly and argumentative. You may also notice problems in school, exhaustion, lack of concentration, and frequent headaches and stomachaches.

Autism is a neurologically based brain disorder affecting 1 in 500 American children. It usually impacts a child's ability to communicate and respond appropriately to the outside world.
Red Flags: Early signs are delayed speech development, inappropriate use of language, inability to communicate nonverbally, lack of social interaction, and an obsession with routines.

Up to four percent of kids suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- an umbrella term used to describe different types of attention and behavior problems.
Red Flags: Signs of trouble include a chronic inability to sit still, focus, or control impulses in a variety of settings, not just school. The typical kid with ADHD may struggle academically, take an inordinate amount of time to do homework, lose belongings, or forget to do things he's been asked to do.

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