From baby dandruff to teen acne, a pharmacist answers seven questions every parent asks.

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Every mum will admit that while parenting is full of joy, it’s also full of endless curveballs. And when we’re confused, we turn to friends or forums for a miracle answer to our endless questions.

But what about the medical queries that you want professional help with? With input from our Mamamia mum tribe, I put forward eight niggling issues – from sleep problems to newborn baby worries – to someone who’s used to being asked every question under the sun.

Catherine Bronger comes from a family of pharmacists. Working with three pharmacies in Sydney, Catherine is passionate about helping people with their everyday needs (of course, anything more than a minor ailment is a doctor’s domain). She’s also a mum of two herself. Help us!

Catherine Bronger
Mum-of-two Catherine Bronger at one of her Chemistworks pharmacies. Image: Supplied

1. My 10-month-old baby has just got over a bout of diarrhoea. What can she have to help avoid dehydration?

Catherine: Rehydration fluids are better to use than ready-to-drink sports drinks, which many mums and dads often ask me about. Rehydration fluids ensure that the fluid being replaced is the right balance of electrolytes that have been lost. You'll find they are a little saltier and not as sweet to taste but that's what's needed. If your baby is breastfeeding you can just increase the feeds as much as possible.

But the most important thing is to monitor your baby and ensure there are lots of wet nappies and they are alert and responding well. Babies are so little they don't have as much fluid to lose as adults, and they will dehydrate really quickly. If the diarrhoea persists longer than 12 hours or you notice signs of dehydration like lethargy, sunken eyes, dark smelly urine, it's important to seek immediate medical attention. Remember, your pharmacy is only a short trip or a quick phone call away if you want to reassurance.

2. My 11-year-old daughter just started having bad breakouts. What do you recommend for this?


Catherine: Breakouts out in tweens is common and it's important to start a ritual of good face hygiene every morning and night. Generally at this stage they don't need harsh soaps so speak to your pharmacist about alternatives. You can also look for an oil-free moisturiser with a low SPF.

A trap for first-time users is to prevent using coloured pillow cases and towels as the peroxide in some creams will start to take the colour out of them in time. Sometimes parents will want to start with natural products and there are good alternatives that can be used in these circumstances.

3. My newborn baby looks to have dandruff. What can I do to help her?

Catherine: If your babies' scalp is scaly and flaky it is possible they have cradle cap. Cradle cap is when the oil glands are over-productive and will form little scale-like patches over a newborn's scalp.

Although it may not look great, it is very normal, not contagious and the baby will usually grow out of it in time. It's important not to pick these scales as you will create open wounds that can become infected. You can use olive oil or cradle cap products and massage the scalp with your fingers or a soft brush to loosen the scales.

4. What's your advice surrounding the use of homeopathic sleep remedies to help my baby sleep?

Catherine: As a general rule I stay clear of homeopathic remedies. It's important to have good sleep hygiene with babies and reach out to specialists if you're really struggling. Most early childhood health centres or your local GP can refer you.

If only they fell asleep when they should...Image: Getty

5. I forgot to complete the penicillin for my child. What should I do now?


Catherine: It's important to take antibiotics as directed so the infection doesn't reoccur. Take the dose as soon as you remember, unless it's time for you next dose and then just take the one dose and continue the course until complete.

A good tip is that all medicine will have what we call a CMI (Consumer Medicine Information) package with it or the pharmacist should print you a copy when you pick up medication for the first time.

If you have misplaced this you can always search the TGA website. These leaflets are formatted in a way that is easy to read and give basic information on forgotten doses, how to take the medicine and side effects.

6. My son has a rash on his face when teething. What is causing this and how can I treat it?

Catherine: The rash is usually caused by excessive saliva production and keeping the area dry is key. Keep a spare cloth handy to wipe away excessive drool and if your child often wets their clothes, it's best to use bibs or change their tops regularly.

It's also worth using a barrier cream as this will prevent the moisture and enzymes in the saliva from irritating the skin more. Speak to your pharmacist about barrier creams, and which they would recommend, depending on how bad the rash is.

When bathing use a mild soap-alternative wash and finish with a light moisturiser. I like the QV or Cetaphil range. If the rash is particularly severe or weeping or you have any concerns go in to see your local pharmacist and ask them to have a look. Often they are able to recommend stronger creams or let you know if you should see the doctor.

7. My one-year-old son split the skin on his forehead after a bump and there's now a scar. What product would you recommend to lessen the scar?

Catherine: Scar treatment is something we get asked lots of questions about. The key to preventing scars is really how you treat the wound initially. There are some great advances in what we call moist wound care, this involves gels and bandages that prevent a scab forming in the middle of the wound, allowing the body to heal quicker and with less scarring.

The choice of bandage will depend on the size of the wound and also how much it's leaking. So it's worth heading into your pharmacy early and getting the best advice on how to treat an open wound. Many pharmacists have now done extra studies in wound care and will dress the wounds for you, so it's worth calling ahead and asking your local pharmacy if they offer this service.

Got more questions? Find your local pharmacy and explore some of the services and advice  they're able to provide.

What's the most helpful piece of advice  you've had from a pharmacist?

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Ask Your Pharmacist