Which Child Medications Are Safe?

Dear HealthArticlesForKids:  Can you give a Mom some advice on which over the counter medications are safe to give our children?  With so many medicines and options at local drug stores, I want to make sure I’m giving my kids something that works but that is safe.  Sincerely, Janet (Austin TX)

Illness, pain and other mild health issues are extremely common among children. After all, children are very active and very social- a potent combination for quickly spreading illnesses and for minor accidents that cause scrapes and bruises.

While you probably have a good idea of how to treat these minor health problems when you come down with them, you probably could use a primer on what medicines are safe for children to utilize. A lot of the medicines that we take for granted in our own lives are dangerous for young and developing children. The following run down will help you make safe choices when treating your children for some of their most common health problems.

1.    Safe Medicine for Fevers and Pain

There are few symptoms that you’re going to need to treat in your child more often than some sort of pain or a mild fever. Physical pain in children comes from a wide variety of sources, from full body aches to the scrapes, cuts and other mild injuries that every child accumulates. Fevers are almost as common, as nearly all childhood illnesses and viruses tend to produce a mild fever.

Back in the day most children were just given Aspirin when they were feeling some sort of pain, but in recent years the health risks associated with children taking Aspirin have become increasingly apparent. The most common of these risks is the development of Reye’s Syndrome.

Instead of aspiring, children  (and even teenagers) should use Motrin, Tylenol or ibuprofen. All of these will reduce pain and lower fevers without the same risks associated with Aspirin. In addition, it’s wise to avoid any pain medications for children that contain Bismuth Subsalicylate.

2.    Safe Medicine for Common Colds

Colds might be even more common in children than small injuries and mild fevers. There are many different cold medicines out there, and most of them are appropriate for use by children.

There is, however, a lot of debate these days over at what age cold medicine becomes appropriate for children. Conventional wisdom has argued that children two and under shouldn’t take over-the-counter cold medicine, but that estimate has come into question in recent years. Many experts are currently arguing that children under the age of four shouldn’t take this medicine, while others are questioning whether it is appropriate for anyone before they enter their teen years.

There is no consensus on the matter, but if you choose to give your child cold medicine than the following are usually consider safe for use by youth: Dimetapp, Robitussin, Sudafed, and Vicks Vaporub.

3.    Safe Medicine for Rashes and Itchy Bumps

Rashes and itchy bumps are all but unavoidable if your child regularly plays outside. There are countless different plants that causes rashes to spring up, and many common mild viruses and illnesses are known to cause large rashes. Itchy bumps are similarly unavoidable if your child spends their time outside, largely due to insect bites.

As difficult as it is for adults to resist scratching their rashes and bumps, it’s all but impossible for children to show restraint when they feel uncomfortable. There are many different anti-itch and anti-rash treatments out there which are appropriate for children, and due to their soothing and mild nature you’re unlikely to find one that causes problems for your child’s skin.

A one percent hydrocortisone cream is the most commonly and effectively used medicine for both of these conditions. Other commonly used, effective and safe medicine for itches and rashes includes Gold Bond, calamine-based lotions, antibiotic cream, and anti fungal creams.

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