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Home remedies for minor childhood ailments

ParentsWorld interviewed respected medical experts and dieticians to recommend science-backed home remedies for common, minor childhood ailments writes Poornima Dilip, Mini P. & Cynthia John

Home remedies

The onset of winter brings with it a host of illnesses including the common cold, respiratory infections and skin-related ailments. And most often, the first and natural response to early symptoms of minor illnesses is a home remedy. Sore throat? Do a warm salt water gargle. Digestive problems? Some jeera water or ginger tea is the first option.

For several millennia, households have resorted to home remedies to treat minor illnesses of children and adults. And modern scientific research has endorsed the benefits of numerous natural remedies earlier dismissed as old wives’ tales.
For instance, several research studies have endorsed turmeric — commonly used to relieve pain — and found that its main ingredient curcumin reduces arthritic pain better than 50 mg of diclofenac sodium, an anti-inflammatory drug. Similarly, another study confirmed that a couple of teaspoons of honey at night reduces cough symptoms.

“Home remedies are often effective in treating mild illnesses. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, they have no side effects. But it’s important to use them judiciously and consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist or worsen,” says G. Sushma, a Hyderabad-based clinical dietician.

In this first-ever lead feature, ParentsWorld interviewed respected medical experts and dieticians to recommend science-backed home remedies for minor childhood ailments.

Skin problems
Dr. Swapna Priya, a Hyderabad-based dermatologist, says that common skin problems in children, teenagers and adults can be treated with natural ingredients. She recommends natural treatments for four common skin problems:

Acne is caused by an oily substance, sebum, which clogs skin pores. It causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples to manifest on the face and neck. This is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages. Here are some effective home remedies for acne.
Tea tree oil. Mix one part tea tree oil with nine parts of water. Apply this solution to the affected areas on face/neck using a ball of cotton. It will reduce acne and inflammation.
Honey and cinnamon mask. Create a paste by mixing honey and cinnamon powder. Apply this mixture to your face and leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing. Honey has antibacterial properties, and cinnamon reduces inflammation.
Aloe vera gel. It is soothing with anti-inflammatory properties. Apply pure aloe vera gel directly to the affected areas to reduce redness and aid healing.

CoverDr Swapna Priya

Dr. Swapna Priya

Dry skin
In winters, dry skin is common. It develops when the skin loses water too quickly and becomes dehydrated. Some useful natural treatments may alleviate this condition.
Coconut oil. After a bath, apply coconut oil when skin is slightly damp. This locks in moisture and hydrates skin.
Olive oil bath. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to bathwater. The oil moisturizes skin, leaving it feeling soft and hydrated.
Oatmeal bath. Add colloidal oatmeal to a warm bath and soak in it for 15-20 minutes. Oatmeal has soothing properties that relieves dry and itchy skin.

Sunburn is red, painful, damaged skin caused from being out in the sun for too long. Some natural remedies to treat sunburn include:
Cool compress. Apply a cool compress, a clean cloth soaked in cold water to the sunburned area. It soothes the skin and reduces inflammation.
Aloe vera. Apply pure Aloe vera gel directly to the sunburned area. Aloe vera has a cooling effect and reduces redness.
Hydration. Drink plenty of water to remain hydrated, as sunburn tends to dehydrate the body. Hydration aids the healing process.


G. Sushma

Under-eye dark circles
They are caused by various factors, including lack of sleep, allergies, hay fever, hyperpigmentation, among others. To lighten and reduce dark circles, try out these home remedies.
Cucumber slices. Place chilled cucumber slices over the eyes and leave them on for 15-20 minutes. Cucumber reduces puffiness and lightens dark circles.
Potato slices. Place thin slices of potato over your eyes. Leave for 10-15 minutes. Potatoes have natural bleaching properties that lighten dark circles.
Cold tea bags. Place cold, damp tea bags (green or black tea) on closed eyes for about 10-15 minutes. The caffeine in the tea constricts blood vessels and reduces dark circles.
Advisory. Always do a patch test on the skin before using any new ingredient to ensure there’s no adverse reaction. If skin problems persist or worsen, consult a dermatologist for proper evaluation and treatment.

Digestive problems
Modern, action-packed lifestyles are forcing children and parents not to adhere to regular mealtimes, skip meals, consume packaged and junk foods, snack all-day, etc. All of this has resulted in a surge in stomach-related digestive ailments. G. Sushma, a well-known Hyderabad-based clinical dietician, suggests safe home remedies for three common digestive ailments.

Also known as dyspepsia, indigestion symptoms are characterised by discomfort or a feeling of fullness during or after a meal. Using natural products can help alleviate indigestion.
Ginger tea. Prepare ginger tea by slicing fresh ginger and steeping it in hot water. Drink this tea before or after meals.
Peppermint oil. Peppermint oil relaxes muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, to alleviate indigestion. Put a few drops of peppermint oil in water and drink after meals.
Chamomile tea. Chamomile tea relieves gastrointestinal irritation. Brew chamomile tea and drink a cup to calm the digestive system.

Symptoms include feeling of fullness, flatulence, and discomfort in the abdominal area. Some effective home remedies to reduce bloating.
Fennel seeds. Fennel seeds have been used for generations to alleviate digestive problems. Chew on a teaspoon of these seeds after meals to ease bloat.
Peppermint tea. Known for its carminative properties, it relaxes muscles of the gastrointestinal tract.
Activated charcoal. Available in supplement form, activated charcoal absorbs excess gas and alleviates bloat. Follow recommended dosage and consult with a healthcare professional for advice.

This condition is defined by infrequent bowel movement. Recommended home remedies.
Fibre-rich foods. Increase your family’s intake of fibre-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Eating fibre-rich foods promotes easier and regular bowel movement.
Prune juice. A well-known natural laxative, prunes relieve constipation. Drink a small glass of prune juice in the morning or before bedtime.
Hydration. Ensure children and other family members drink plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hydration prevents constipation.

CoverDr Mamata Panda

Dr. Mamata Panda

Common cold
The common cold is a self-limiting disease, cured by our immune system. Many natural remedies provide temporary relief and speed up the recovery process. Dr. Mamata Panda, senior paediatric consultant, CARE Hospitals, Bhubaneswar, recommends some natural therapies.
Honey. Honey soothes sore throats and coughs in children aged above one. Please note that honey shouldn’t be given to infants under this age because of the risk of botulism.
Warm herbal teas. Chamomile or peppermint tea (without caffeine) eases digestive discomfort and promotes relaxation in older children and adolescents.
Saline nasal drops. Recommended to relieve nasal congestion in infants and young children. They are available over the counter and can be safely used.
Ginger. Ginger can be used to make ginger tea or candies. These can be given to ease colds and upset stomachs in older children.
Warm compress. A warm, damp cloth applied to a child’s forehead or chest provides comfort for fever and chest congestion.
Hydration. Encourage children to drink plenty of fluids, such as water or clear broths, to remain hydrated when they are down with a cold.

Essential precautions

  • Natural products can trigger allergic reactions. Therefore, parents need to remember the allergic history of children before administering natural therapies.
  • Consult a healthcare provider, ideally your child’s paediatrician, before using natural remedies, and request advice on dosage and safety.
  • Natural remedies are recommended for minor ailments. Appropriate medical diagnosis and consultation is necessary if the illness persists.
  • For children with specific medical conditions or allergies, consult a qualified medical practitioner before administering home remedies.

Home remedies for toddler maladies

Little,Girl,And,Her,Mother,Drinking,Milkshakes,And,Discussing,AInfants and toddlers are more susceptible to minor illnesses and injuries, from common cold to insect bites. Here are some useful natural home remedies to treat infant/toddlers.

Cough and congestion. Turmeric is a great natural curative. It may be administered as a nasal drop or chest rub by making a paste with water and salt or mixed with lemon and/or honey in warm water to dilute congested mucus. Haldi doodh or turmeric milk is also a good remedy for coughs and colds, and can be mixed with honey, jaggery or other spices. However, honey should not be administered to infants below the age of one as it can lead to infant botulism.

Common cold. Hot mustard oil massage improves blood circulation, retains body heat, and works as an effective decongestant. Warm mustard oil may be paired with a few garlic cloves, black cumin or basil for optimal results.

Sore throat. Commonly known as kadha (a concoction of Indian spices with warm water), this herbal concoction works wonders to cure sore throat. Boil a ground mix of spices and herbs such as tulsi, ginger, black pepper, cloves, cumin, cinnamon and honey/jaggery in water. This healing concoction has anti-bacterial properties and is an excellent immunity booster and decongestant. However, it’s important to note that it could become too spicy. Therefore, care should be taken to dilute it. Or it should be boiled for a shorter duration to reduce its intensity.

Colic/stomach flu. Chamomile tea aids digestion, easing constipation and relieving infant colic. It relaxes an infant’s intestinal muscles, soothes the nerves and induces sleep. However, it’s not recommended for infants below six months of age.

Portrait,Of,A,Young,Asian,Girl,Scratching,Her,Arm.Constipation. Prunes (dried plums) are known to relieve constipation in infants. Administer them in juice or pureed form. However, it’s not recommended for infants below 12 months unless prescribed by a doctor.

Insect bites. Insect bites result in skin rashes, redness and swollen blisters. Apply aloe vera which provides cooling relief to the skin, relieves pain, swelling and itchiness. Lemon juice is often used as an effective disinfectant. A paste of baking soda and water is also used to maintain the skin’s ph level, providing relief from itching. Apple cider vinegar is excellent in treating mosquito bites in children, but in diluted form.

Rashes. Organic oils such as olive oil have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Ditto avocado oil with its antioxidant properties that heal skin rashes. Oatmeal baths are also known to work wonders on chapped and peeled skin, also acting as an organic anti-inflammatory to soothe the sensitive skin of an infant. However, consult a paediatrician if the rash persists or becomes an eczema.

Also read: Home spa for stressed parents

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