Don't Let Summertime Joys Bring Woes by Prasanta Bhamidipati, MD, HSHS Medical Group Pediatrician
Summer conjures up images of children frolicking under the sun and having fun with outdoor activities. However, common summer time perils can occur even when you have the best of intentions – like forgetting the water bottle for your kid’s T-ball game while trying to locate an errant glove ten minutes before game time! Here are just a few reminders – and how to know when to call the doctor – to keep your family safe this summer.
Although you certainly know that UV rays from the sun can damage skin, eyes and cause skin cancer, did you know that just two or more blistering sunburns can increase the risk of melanoma? One-fourth of our lifetime sun exposure happens during childhood and adolescence, so while it may be frustrating to track down your children at the pool to reapply the sunscreen, it’s vitally important. To prevent sunburn and keep your kids safe, follow these tips:
- Wear wide brimmed hats, sunglasses that provide 97-100% protection against UVA and UVB rays and cotton clothes with tight weave. Many stores now sell inexpensive and cute “rashguards” – your child definitely won’t be the only one sporting this sun-safety style.
- Limit sun exposure during peak intensity hours of 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Wear sunscreen on sunny and cloudy days with SPF of 15 or more that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply enough sunscreen – and be sure to reapply every two hours or after swimming and sweating.
- Use caution near water and sand as they reflect UVA rays and result in sunburn quickly.
- For babies younger than six months: When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply sunscreen with SPF at least 15 to small areas such as infant's face and back of hands.
If sunburn does happen despite these precautions, use cool compresses and give acetaminophen or Ibuprofen for pain control. Keep your child out of the sun until the sunburn is completely healed. Call your doctor if sunburn occurs with a baby less than one year of age for sunburn with blistering, pain and fever in a child of any age.
Heat Injury is divided into three categories, ranging from mild to severe. It’s important to monitor your children and be aware of these symptoms, as busy young children may ignore symptoms until they are advanced.
Heat Cramps occur mainly during exercising and can involve arms, abdomen and legs. Heat Exhaustion symptoms leave children feeling weak, dizzy, nauseous and faint, although body temperature can be normal. Heat Stroke is a medical emergency. Body temperature is high and affected people are irritable, disoriented or combative. This happens most in long distance runners, so be sure your competitive runners and athletes train early and follow the tips below.
To prevent heat injury, follow the tips below:
- The intensity of activities lasting more than 15 minutes should be reduced whenever temperature and humidity reach critical levels.
- Before prolonged physical activity children should be well hydrated. In the first hour of activity, children should drink water or sports drink every 20 minutes and substantially increase the amount if sweating profusely.
- After an hour of exercise, children need to drink a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage.
- Have the children wear light-colored and lightweight clothes that are absorbent.
If you suspect your child is suffering from heat injury, move him or her to a cooler environment, give adequate cool fluids, and apply cool compresses. Call your doctor or go to the Emergency Department if the child is vomiting, has a high body temperature, is disoriented or irritable.
A bout with those red bumps or blisters of Poison Ivy or Poison Oak is sure to put a crimp in any child’s summer plans. Be sure to know how to identify and treat the rashes caused from these plant families.
Symptoms of Poison Ivy/Poison Oak include the ever-present itching, but the linear array of weepy red bumps or blisters is the tell-tale sign that distinguishes it from insect bites. Once you’ve identified the rash as Poison Ivy or Poison Oak, take these next steps for first aid:
- Wash the skin with warm water and soap.
- Scrub under finger nails.
- Wash clothing and shoes.
- Apply a cool compress to the affected areas.
- Use Calamine lotion for soothing.
- Hydro-cortisone cream can help reduce redness and itching.
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl can also help with itching.
Call the Doctor is your child is experiencing severe itching, the rash affects the face, lips, eyes or genitals or if the rash shows signs of infection.
Submitted by Prasanta Bhamidipati, MD, a pediatrician with HSHS Medical Group. Dr. Bhamidipati recently moved with her family to Springfield to join the HSHS Medical Group and is located at the St. John’s Health Center – Prairie Crossing site. She is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics.
For more information on HSHS Medical Group, which is a premium sponsor of the Springfield Moms website, visit their website here.
HSHS Medical Group Pediatrics – Prairie Crossing
4337 Conestoga Dr., Springfield 217-789-3620
Sunburn Source: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/archives/tanning.htm
Heat Injury Source: http://www.aap.org/policy/re9845.html