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OTC Medicines and Children

There are some medicines that you can buy over-the-counter (OTC) from your pharmacy or a supermarket that are specially formulated for children. You should have a basic supply of these at home, others you can buy when needed. Pharmacy staff can advise you as to what product is needed to alleviate the specific symptoms that your child has.

There is a range of medicines specifically made for children:

  • Nappy rash
    There are a number of formulated preparations that clean and protect the skin and can help to prevent nappy rash developing. They can also be used to alleviate the soreness of nappy rash once it has developed. Many antiseptic creams are suitable for treating nappy rash.
  • Teething
    To help relieve pain, gels with local anaesthetics and analgesics or paracetamol containing suspensions can be used for children under two years old.
  • Wind
    There is a range of child formulations available to relieve wind and gripe.

There are a number of products that you should consider keeping at home for self-medication when your child becomes unwell. Common medicines that you may need include:

  • Thermometer
    Digital and forehead thermometers can be used for children. If their temperature is over 38ºC or 100.4ºF, your child may have a fever.
  • Antiseptics
    To treat minor grazes, cuts, burns and insect bites you can use antiseptic creams, ointments and solutions. Topical hydrocortisone is not recommended for children under 10.
  • Pain relief
    Paracetamol and ibuprofen are taken orally for pain relief and are available in child formulations in tablet, powder and liquid form. They can be used to treat a range of aches and pains and can also help to reduce a fever. Children under 16 should not be given aspirin without medical advice.
  • Cough relief
    You can buy cough formulations specifically prepared for children - both suppressants, to stop a cough and expectorants, to loosen it, are available.

  • Other cold relief medicines
    You can buy decongestants to relieve a blocked nose as sprays or drops or as a rub to apply to the chest. Medicines with both pain relievers and decongestants are also available.

If your child as ever had the following you should think about having OTC medicines at home to treat them when the condition recurs:

  • Hayfever or allergy
    Antihistamines are used to relieve hayfever and other allergies, including skin allergies such as hives. They are available as syrups for young children. You can also buy eye drops to relieve itchy or sore eyes caused by an allergy.
  • Diarrhoea
    Rehydration solutions, which are taken orally, are most suitable for children.

Safe self-medication

  • Make sure you keep all your medicines in a safe, secure place - out of reach of children
  • Where possible keep medication in its original packaging, if you do repack them to fit into your travel medicine pack, make sure you take the instructions for each medicine with you
  • Read the instructions and never exceed the daily dose
  • Do not use medicines that are past their use-by date
  • If you are using prescription or complimentary medicine, consult your pharmacist before taking an OTC medicine

How to get advice:
If you need advice on taking over-the-counter medicines, speak to a pharmacist or call The CHIC's Over-The-Counter Medicines Advice Line on 0208 742 7042 open from 10am - 3pm Monday to Fridays and calls are charged at standard national rate. . It is manned by trained nurses. is a directory of medicines and food supplements that are available 'over the counter' (OTC) from your pharmacist.

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