Childhood illnesses

A pale face, hot forehead, fatigue and listlessness are signs that your child is seriously ill. You can confirm this by taking the child's body temperature. Practically all childhood illnesses are accompanied by high fever. Fortunately, these can now be effectively treated. Patience is needed, however, as recovery may take several days or even weeks.


It is a fact of life that children become sick. When a child starts to show signs of getting sick, it is often one of the typical child illnesses. Almost all children go through them. Be aware of the symptoms. This way, you have a reference point about which illness it might be. Depending on the situation, your child may need medical attention.

The most common child illnesses

The typical child illnesses – measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox (varicella) and whooping cough – are infectious diseases. The bacteria or viruses are transmitted indirectly by means of droplet infection. Your child will have been infected while playing with other children or at school. To prevent them from infecting other children, they should stay at home until the illness has subsided.

Symptoms Incubation period Treatment Duration
  • High fever
  • Head cold
  • Coughing
  • Conjunctivitis
  • White spots in the oral mucosa
  • Skin rash over the entire body (red spots)
10 to 11 days
  • Strict bed rest until the fever has subsided
  • Oral care: rinse with camomile or sage tea

4 to 7 days

Vaccination possible

Symptoms Incubation period Treatment Duration
  • Swollen parotid gland
  • Swollen cheeks and swelling on and around the lower jaw
  • High fever
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Stomach ache and vomiting
  • Inflammation of the testes
2 weeks
  • Strict bed rest until the fever has subsided
  • Oral care: rinse with camomile or sage tea

Approx. 7 days

Vaccination possible

Symptoms Incubation period Treatment Duration
  • Mild, reddish rash, non-coalescing, on the throat/chest
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • High fever
  • Headache, pain in the limbs and joints
2 to 3 weeks
  • Only the symptoms can be treated
  • Bed rest until the fever has subsided
  • Fever-reducing compresses
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Fever-reducing medication, as prescribed by a physician


Vaccination possible

Chicken pox (varicella)
Symptoms Incubation period Treatment Individual
  • Red spots on the skin, possibly also on the mucosa
  • Formation of blisters and scabs on the skin
  • Itching
  • Fever
Approx. 2 weeks
  • Cold compresses to alleviate itching
  • Bed rest
  • Cut finger nails so that scratching does not create wounds
  • For babies, change nappies more often

2 to 3 weeks

Vaccination possible

Whooping cough
Symptoms Incubation period Treatment Duration
  • Wheezing cough, strong tickling of the throat, retching
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Fever
7 to 20 Days
  • Keep air moist
  • In the case of a coughing fit, sit child upright and lean them forward
  • Air the room regularly
  • Fever-reducing medication and antibiotics, as prescribed by the physician

Several weeks

Vaccination possible

Household remedies for child illnesses

Many harmless illnesses and complaints can be treated by household remedies that have been around for generations. They can provide fast and effective relief and save you a trip to the doctor. Give it a try:

Head cold and sore throat
  • Elderberry syrup
  • Warm neck compress (water and a little lemon juice)
  • Warm foot bath
  • Place warm onions in your socks
  • Head vapour bath (not too hot, to avoid risk of scalding)
  • Fennel tea
  • Diluted elderberry juice
  • Warm chest compress with boiled potatoes
  • Home-brewed, cough-relieving tea with primrose blossom, liquorice, marshmallow root, ribwort and thyme
Head cold
  • Keep the air moist; for example, by laying wet towels over the radiators
  • Place sliced onions next to pillow while sleeping
  • Saltwater nasal rinses (1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in 250ml water)
Stomach ache
  • Vinegar or camomile compress (warm)
  • Anti-flatulence tea made with anise, cumin and fennel seeds
Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Blueberry tea
  • Peppermint tea
  • Rusks and oatmeal soup
  • Cola and pretzel sticks
  • Cold cheek compress
Insect bite
  • Rub saliva into the site of the bite
  • Trickle some onion juice onto the site of the bite
  • Press a warm spoon against the bite for 30 seconds

Additional remedies

Managing stress within the family

Sick children are often a cause of stress for parents. However, their recovery has priority. By relieving some of your burden in other areas, you can nurse your child back to health without having to worry about secondary responsibilities. If you work and you can't look after your sick child yourself, you should ideally place your child in the care of someone you trust, either from within your circle of family or friends, or an external specialist.

My child is sick. Can I stay at home?
A sick child belongs in bed. They need a lot of rest, care, and the attention and affection of their mother or father. Labour law in Switzerland shares this view: employees with children under 15 years of age are entitled to three days' paid leave to look after their sick child. This entitlement applies per case of illness, and not per calendar year. If the child needs more time to get back to health, the other parent who works can also stay at home for three days. Employers may ask for a doctor's note confirming that the child was ill.


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