Help kids overcome the fear of needles

Model proper behavior (be calm yourself), explain the procedure and role-play it beforehand, be honest, teach coping techniques

Close up of female doctor holding syringe with injection (iilustrative) (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Close up of female doctor holding syringe with injection (iilustrative)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
My daughter is finishing first grade and very fearful of having blood removed for tests at our health fund clinic and vaccinations in school. She even tries to run away to avoid the shots and hypodermic needles. What can be done to alleviate her fears?
N.A., Rishon Lezion
Dr. Ilan Oseran, a psychologist in the gastroenterology, nutrition and liver disease institute at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva, answers
: Blood tests and shots are liable to frighten not only young children but even adults. Many times, when parents bring their babies and toddlers in for vaccinations or blood tests, the parents are so anxious that they look in the other direction – and the message is transmitted to the children.
Before a child’s encounter with a needle, one should prepare. Two of the most frightening things about medical care is not knowing what is in store and feeling out of control. Give the child a simple explanation of what will be happen, so she will feel less uncertain.
Be honest that it might be a little unpleasant, but that it will be over in a few seconds. Try to find out exactly what scares her – pain, losing blood, or something else – and try to calm her about it.
Using a doll, in which your child gives it a “shot” using a toy hypodermic needle after you show her how to do it, could help.
You can even practice deep breathing with her and imagining that she is inhaling calmness, which she could then concentrate on when getting a shot or having blood taken.
If there is something such as a toy, blanket or doll that she is really attached to and gives her confidence, take it along for a blood test. Squeezing a soft, rubber ball can also help.
You can give your child a task, such as holding a piece of gauze, to make her feel more in control, or let her decide which arm will get the shot. You can also give her earphones to hear music that she likes.
To alleviate pain, ask for Emla cream, a mild anesthetic, to be rubbed into her arm. Most children (and adults) prefer to look away when having blood removed or getting a shot; suggest to her that she do so.
After the deed is done, console the child and let her express her feelings.
Tell her how brave she was – even in front of other people – to increase her confidence.
The jellyfish have arrived! I know what to do if the skin is affected by the stings – wash the spot with vinegar or salt water. But what do you do to protect the eyes from these horrible creatures and cope with the stings?
N.O., Tel Aviv
Ophthalmologist Dr. Uri Meller responds: If there is a burning feeling after contact with the chemicals released by jellyfish, wash the eyes with saline (salt) water a few times. The cnidocyte cells along their tentacles contain harpoon- like structures full of venom, called nematocysts. The nematocysts are ejected when triggered by touch and can enter human skin in less time than it takes you to blink.
Using drinking water is liable to cause these cells to explode and release more venom that would spread into the eyes. Do not wash the eyes with vinegar; it is recommended for use only on the skin.
After the chemicals have been washed from the eyes, one can use drinking water to wash off the salt water, using a clean damp cloth with the eyelids closed.
If the venom has affected the skin of the eyelids, there is no reason to fear.
It is not dangerous if not touching the eyes themselves. You can relieve the pain using salt water and then cold compresses of tap water.
In any case of jellyfish venom, do not rub the eyes; this would make them redder and itchier and make the situation worse. If the pain persists, go to an ophthalmologist or a hospital emergency room as soon as possible.
I had a pipe dripping under my floor tiles, and the water went up the walls. I know that water must be trapped behind my builtin closet and that there must be mold. The closet covers an entire wall. If the mold is enclosed because it’s completely covered by the back of the built-in closet, can it have any adverse effects on one’s health? I have some respiratory problems. Would a lung expert suggest ripping out the back of the closet and redoing it?
S.A., Beit Shemesh
Prof. Gabriel Izbicki, head of Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s Pulmonary Institute, answers: Exposure to damp and mold, especially in the case of someone with respiratory problems, can trigger a number of health problems, including nasal congestion, irritation of the eyes and throat, coughing and wheezing.
If you are allergic to mold, it could be serious. If you have chronic respiratory problems, you can get infections. I do think that even if the mold is covered, it could have adverse effects on your health and should therefore be removed.  Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting.
Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 9100002, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to jsiegel@, giving your initials, age and place of residence.