By Trung Nguyen, Pharmacist
Winter is well and truly underway. Whilst the idea of hot chocolates, cozy fires and living in
sweatpants sounds extremely appealing, a child suffering from a cold is certainly not. And
for many parents, this is unfortunately the reality of winter.
Why are colds more common in winter?
We’ve all been told to “rug up or you might catch a cold” during winter. Concerned parents
around the globe repeat this year on year and yet the average person probably has no idea
why a cold is more common in winter. During winter, shorter daylight hours means children
may be running low on Vitamin D. There is growing evidence to show Vitamin D may be
responsible for strengthening the immune system. Also, because we spend more time
inside, it’s easier for colds to spread between individuals. But importantly, it’s because the
cold air affects our first line of defense – our nasal passages. Our noses constantly secrete
mucus, however the cold air cools the nasal passage and slows down the mucus clearance
making it easier for bacteria to get into our bodies.
Luckily, there are plenty of steps parents can take to keep their child’s immunity up and help
them to avoid catching a nasty cold this winter.
Stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are important for keeping your child’s immune system strong. A rule
of thumb: eat the rainbow! Colourful fruits and vegetables will give your kids all the
nutrients, vitamins and energy they need to stay healthy. More than that, stock the house
with healthy convenient snacks so it’s easy for child to reach for them. If your child, like
most, isn’t a fan of vegetables, try chopping them up very finely and putting them into a
delicious lasagna or pasta bake. Fresh juices are another way to increase your child’s fruit
Wash those hands
Hand hygiene is especially important during the winter months, given it’s more likely for the
common cold to spread rapidly. A great idea is to buy a few small bottles of hand sanitiser
and pop them in your child’s schoolbag or lunchbox. Ideally, your child should be washing
their hands with soap and warm water before eating, but we all know this doesn’t always
happen. Therefore, a hand sanitiser can be helpful in encouraging best practice hand
hygiene. A staple includes Chemists’ Own’s Instant Hand Sanitiser.
Drink lots of water
When your child is sick with cold and flu symptoms such as a runny nose or a fever, their
body loses water, which can result in dehydration. Hydration is pivotal in fighting off illness,
therefore it’s super important that you keep up your child’s water intake high. If you
struggle to get your child to drink water, try infusing it with lemon or lime to entice them.
Consider adding these staples to your medicine cabinet
Oftentimes, your child coming down with a cold is inevitable. Cough is very common in
children. So, the following are some simple suggestions for you.
Avoid cigarettes: Cigarette smoke will make the cough worse, so it is essential that you do
not expose your child to smoke.
Honey: This is a natural remedy to a dry and sore throat, especially due to its effective
soothing properties. If your child is experiencing a dry throat, try giving them a small
teaspoon of honey.
Cough syrup: Sometimes your child might need some temporary relief from bronchial
congestion in the form of a soothing cough syrup. A good option for this is Chemists’ Own
Children’s Natural Cough Mixture, because not only does it help to treat mucus and chesty
coughs, but it’s sugar, alcohol and colour free.
Chest balm: A well-known cult favorite amongst parents everywhere is Vicks VapoRub –
this miracle balm helps to improve muscle aches, nasal congestion and symptoms of cold
and flu. Simply spread a small amount on your child’s chest before they go to sleep.
Antiseptic cream: In the event that anyone in your family needs to reach for some antiseptic
cream to treat a minor cut, burn or abrasion – which isn’t uncommon on winter adventures
make sure you have a tube on hand. A good option is Betadine First Aid Cream, as you can
pick it up from your local supermarket or pharmacy. An antiseptic cream is critical in wound
care, as it works to prevent bacterial infections.
Saline spray: When your child is experiencing dry nasal passages from things like dust and
pollen during the winter, it can be helpful to stock your medicine cabinet with a bottle of
saline nasal solution to help your child breathe easier. A good option is Chemists’ Own
Saline Nasal Spray, as it can be used by the whole family – from infants through to adults, as
well as whilst breastfeeding.
In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that you get tested should you be
experiencing symptoms of cold and flu such as a fever, runny nose or loss of taste and smell.