Teething can be a frustrating and unsettling time for babies and their parents

My eight-month-old daughter is teething and is dribbling. What should I do so that it doesn’t irritate her skin?

Symptoms associated with teething are more significant in the four days before tooth eruption — during this period the gums are swollen and tender. 

Most babies will teethe when they are aged four to ten months old with the lower front teeth coming down first and the full complement of 20 teeth is almost always present by 30 months. 

Most babies will experience mild symptoms that last for a few days and these include:

* Red and swollen gums

* Red cheeks

* Dribbling more than usual

* Rubbing the ear on the side where the tooth is coming through

* Being irritable and restless Mild temperature

* Chewing their fingers and biting on anything at hand to relief pain

* Loss of appetite

* Sleep disturbances

* Diarrhoea.

To soothe your daughter’s gums you could chill a teething ring in the fridge (not the freezer) for a few minutes and let her chew on this. 

Other suggestions are to let your daughter chew the teat of a pacifier and applying mild pressure with a cool spoon to her gums or frozen fruits and vegetables. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may be used to relieve symptoms. 

There are a number of over-the-counter teething gels which contain a local anaesthetic — your pharmacist can advise you about the best kind and the right dose for your daughter based on her age.

It is possible that the rash may have been caused by her constant dribbling. 

I suggest that you keep a soft cloth to hand and wipe her chin and the rest of face gently when you notice her dribbling. 

If she is in a crèche or with a child-minder you could ask them to wipe her chin regularly. Giving your daughter cool (not cold) water to drink may help with the constant dribbling.

It is important to be alert to any changes in health or behaviour in your daughter, if she is feeding poorly, has a raised temperature, crying or is distressed you need to seek urgent medical attention for her.

My father has been unable to bend the ring finger on his right hand for some time and has been diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture. What causes it?

Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition of the hand caused by a thickening of the tissue above the tendons in the palm which causes one or more fingers to bend towards the bend.

A nodule or small hard lump develops under the skin of the palm and over time form cords which contract and pull the finger towards the palm. 

The ring finger is usually affected first, then the middle finger followed by the little finger. In some cases it progresses slowly. It is often bilateral and also may affect the soles of the feet. 

The reason why this happens is unknown in most cases but it is possible that it is due to a genetic factor as there is a tendency for it to run in some families.

It has also been called ‘Viking disease’ or ‘Celtic hand’ as it mainly affects people who are of either Scandinavian or Northern European ancestry. 

It is affects more men than women and usually starts in the older age group with men in their 50s and women in their 60s and is not usually painful. 

For most people both hands are affected but for some only one hand is affected.

Many people with Dupuytren’s contracture do not need any treatment as in many cases it remains in the mild form and does not interfere with the use of the hand. 

If it begins to affect the use of the hand treatment, such as a series of injections, may be advised. 

In other cases, surgery to release the tendons may be advised but this depends on the extent of the contracture and whether the condition is mild or severe.

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