Decongestants 'not suitable for child with cold'
Parents have been advised not to give their children decongestants after a new review.
Experts said the evidence surrounding the effectiveness of the medicines is "limited".
They stressed that the common cold is usually self-limiting and symptoms should clear up in around a week.
Children have around six to eight colds per year and adults have two to four, they said.
In a new article, published in 'The British Medical Journal', experts from Australia and Belgium made a series of recommendations based on systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials.
Youngsters carry the highest burden for the common cold, but trials to test the effectiveness of treatments are lacking, they said.
The authors of the paper said children under 12 should not be given decongestants.
"A small number of trials report contradictory results for decongestants and antihistamines on nasal symptoms and safety in children," they said.
"Some products that contain decongestant may improve nasal symptoms in children, but their safety, especially in young children, is unclear."
The authors added: "Do not prescribe decongestants to children under 12, as evidence of their effectiveness is limited and associated risks may exist."
Meanwhile, saline nasal irrigations or drops can be used safely, "but they may not give the desired relief".
Vapour rub may relieve congestion but can cause rashes, they added.
Other treatments, such as steam, humidified air, echinacea or probiotics are either "not effective or have not been studied in children".