Common Problems

Your child will almost definitely have one of these problems or conditions during childhood. Check this section for the essential information on nappy rash, fever, cough, bedwetting and more - including what to watch out for and when to seek help. 

Girl coughing

Asthma is a condition that leads to narrowing of the airways of the lungs. Symptoms include wheeze, cough and difficulty breathing.

Allergies happen when your child's immune system mistakenly treats normally harmless substances as 'harmful'. The substances that trigger allergies are called allergens. The symptoms of an allergy vary according to what a child or young person is allergic to. 

Bedwetting happens during sleep. Your child can't control their bedwetting - it is not their fault. Most tamariki (children) grow out of bedwetting.

A boil is a tender red lump on the skin which is caused by an infection of the hair root or sweat pore. Boils are not usually a serious problem. There is a small chance of your child becoming sicker if the infection spreads - if this happens you should take your child to your family doctor.

A breath-holding spell may happen after a child has an upset or sudden startle, such as a minor bump or a fright.

Colds are common in tamariki (children). They are caused by viruses that spread easily through coughing and sneezing. Learn more about common cold symptoms and how to manage them.

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is a very common condition in children. It causes red, irritated and sticky eyes. A viral or bacterial infection or allergic reaction are the most common causes of conjunctivitis.

Constipation is when your child has hard poo and doesn't poo for 3 or more days. It's a common problem in childhood.

Coughing is common in children, especially when they are preschool age. A cough that lasts longer than 4 weeks is not normal and may be a sign of more serious disease.

Ear pain and concerns about hearing are one of the most common reasons parents take their young children to the doctor.

Eczema is a dry skin condition. You can easily manage most eczema at home but it needs care every day. There is no cure for eczema - just good management.

Fevers are common in children. Fever by itself does not tell you whether your child is seriously sick. Even an ordinary cold can cause a high fever.

The flu is not the same as having a bad cold. The flu can be a serious infection. Flu immunisation every year gives the best protection.

The foreskin is the loose skin that covers and protects the end of the penis. The foreskin and penis of a baby or child need no special care. A child's foreskin should never be pulled back (retracted) by force.

Gastroenteritis (gastro) is a bowel infection, usually caused by a virus. It causes runny, watery poo and sometimes vomiting. Children with gastroenteritis need to drink plenty of fluids.

If your child has hand, foot and mouth disease, keep them at home if they are unwell or have blisters. Make sure your child doesn't go to childcare, school or kura until all the blisters have dried.

Headaches are common in tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people). Most headaches are not due to a serious problem. Find out when to take your child to see a health professional.

Head lice are small insects that live on the human scalp. They are common and cause concern and frustration for parents, tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people). Dimethicone lotion is a very effective treatment that a health professional can prescribe. Check out our step by step guide.

Migraine headaches are common in tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people). Treatment involves managing your child's symptoms and avoiding triggers.

The main cause of nappy rash is wearing a wet or dirty nappy for too long. Keep your baby's skin clean and dry. 

Nightmares are bad dreams that are usually related to worries your child may have. Night terrors happen when children are only partly aroused or woken from deep sleep. They can be very frightening for parents and carers.

Reflux is when your baby's stomach contents are released back up towards their mouth. It's very common and doesn't usually hurt pēpi.

Meet Tristan and Justin. The 11-year-old twins know first hand that a sore throat left untreated can lead to rheumatic fever.

Threadworms are tiny worms that infect the digestive tract. They're common in children and spread easily. They commonly cause an itch around the bottom and genitals.