Doctor, doctor: Isn't six a bit young to be a vegetarian?

Isn't six a bit young to be a vegetarian?

Question: My six-year-old son has declared he wants to be vegetarian - he seems to be perfectly healthy, but should I encourage him to eat meat, or give him vitamin supplements to make up for the meat-free diet?

Answer: I'm worried about this question - not about your child's health, because being vegetarian (as long as his diet is varied) should not compromise it. He shouldn't need vitamin supplements, provided he's in robust health. No, what worries me is who has influenced him? Is it someone at school, or friends, or something online, or a TV show? You, not an outsider, should be the main influence on his lifestyle. If you try to encourage him to eat meat, don't make it a battle, but a matter of friendly chat. You may find that his ideas are mistaken, and that you can correct them.

Making a mountain out of a mole?

Question: I have a large, flat, unsightly mole on my cheek - my GP says it's harmless, but I'm sure it's getting bigger, and hairier. How should I go about getting it removed?

Answer: Hairiness in a mole doesn't necessarily signal a change to malignancy, but any increase in size is one of the red flag points about any pigmented lesion, even in one considered harmless. Other red flags include changes in colour, colour variations across the surface, bleeding, itching, changes in the margins of the spot, so they appear indistinct instead of sharp, and the appearance of tiny "satellite" pigmented spots near the edges but unattached to them. If a facial "mole" is unsightly, you're entitled to have it investigated and removed by an NHS dermatology team, and should not have to go to a private cosmetic surgeon. If you tell a GP that the character and size of the mole have changed, she or he should refer you, regardless of whether or not they think it harmless.

This strain's a pain

Question: I strained my calf while training for a 10km run and am still limping days later. There's no bruising or sign of bleeding. Should I rest or do stretching exercises to keep it supple?

Answer: It's a bit late to rest it: walking and swimming should help, but until the pain eases, running, weights and stretches may be taking things too far. Your best bet is to see a physio, who'll tell you which muscle is affected and advise on exercises to speed recovery.

Thrush in pregnancy

Question: I'm seven months pregnant and have had thrush on and off since I took antibiotics for a rash around my nose and chin. Would taking lactobacillus acidophilus help? The itch and the rash may seem minor, but they're getting me down.

Answer: My concern is that you think thrush in late pregnancy is minor. It isn't. You must try to get it eradicated before you go into labour. If you don't, there is a high chance that the baby will be infected at birth, and that could be serious. Talk to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician about it now. Don't wait until you're nearer full term. As for the facial rash, if it is infected, there are good antibiotic creams that you could be prescribed that won't stimulate thrush. One point you may not have considered: has your partner been treated for thrush? He may not have obvious symptoms, and may be re-infecting you. As for lactobacillus, if you have a thrush infection, swallowing lactobacilli won't clear it up - it will only change the microbes in your gut.

• Do you have a question for Dr Smith? Email doctordoctor@guardian.co.uk

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.