Summer Fun Brings Summer Ailments
Along with all the fun of summer fun, come these common ailments that can be annoying to say the least. Here are a few simple solutions to help make the summer a little safer for the whole family.
1. Insect bites
One of the most common problems of summer are insect bites. With the beautiful weather of summer, we tend to spend more time outdoors, giving insects ample opportunity to feast on us. With most of these ailments, the first rule of thumb is prevention. I know it sounds simple enough but most of us actually forget to use insect repellant or use the wrong kind. A good insect repellant is one containing 10 to 35 % DEET. It can be applied once daily to kids older than 6 months. Use the 10 % concentration in babies and younger children.
Of course it’s a good idea to avoid being around standing bodies of water, where mosquito larvae grow, and to avoid being around bushes and tall grass. If possible avoid outdoor activities around dawn and dusk when you are more likely to get bitten. If it’s not too hot, wearing long sleeved shirts and pants and light colored clothing also help prevent bites.
Unfortunately despite our best efforts, we cannot escape all bites. Once bitten, wash the area with soap and water. Apply a cool compress. For people who have the tendency to develop a large itchy local reaction, taking over the counter antihistamines like Cetirizine, or Benadryl can be helpful to decrease the reaction and the itching. Over the counter hydrocortisone 1 % cream or Calamine can also be applied to the bite to help with itching. You can find these at your local CVS Pharmacy.
Of course, if you have any concerns that your child is having a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite, or you think the bite is infected or you suspect your child was bitten by a more venomous insect, please contact your doctor.
2. Heat Related Ailments
Heat related ailments can be as minor as heat rashes to serious illnesses like heat stroke. Here too, prevention is the key. In these days when there is so much competition in organized sports, students and coaches often feel the need to continue training no matter what the environment is. It is prudent to pay particular attention to the weather, and to avoid extremely hot temperatures and high humidity, to keep our teens safe. Temperatures ranging between 91 and 104 degrees are considered extreme and the risk of heat related injuries are high, so extreme caution must be taken if the exercise or sporting event cannot be rescheduled.
It’s important to wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing. Choose fabrics that draw sweat away from the body. Encourage your teen athletes to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of liquids. If possible, substitutions must be done frequently to avoid tiring and overheating individuals. If you think a child is getting exhausted, trust your instincts and encourage them to take a break. Don’t let teens feel like they are not tough if they need a break. Encouraging them to rest when they are exhausted in extreme heat conditions might literally save their lives.
If you suspect a teen is suffering from heat exhaustion or is having heat cramps, stop the activity they are involved in and take them to a cool place. For serious cases call 911, and remove all unnecessary clothing. There is no time for modesty here. Attempt to cool them down by getting them to drink electrolyte containing liquids even as you wait for help to arrive.
The peak time to develop sunburns is between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Of course to prevent sunburn the use of sunscreen cannot be overemphasized. It is true that the lighter skinned you are, the more likely you are to get sunburned, but no matter your skin pigmentation, everyone needs sunscreen to protect their skin, not just from sunburn, but from the risk of eventually developing skin cancer. The “beauty” of a tanned skin, is not worth the risk. To help decrease the risk of sunburns, encourage your teens to wear fashionable wide brimmed hats if they must be outside for prolonged periods of time. Frequent reapplication of sunscreen is advisable especially if teens are swimming or sweating a lot or outdoors for prolonged periods of time. Of course it’s advisable for them to wear clothing that covers up their skin so encourage your teen to do this.
If you think your teen has a mild sunburn, get them out of the heat, and give lots of liquids. Apply a cool compress and give an anti-inflammatory pain medication like Ibuprofen. Calamine lotion is generally effective especially to decrease itching during healing. Aloe Vera gels and lotions are also effective. Low potency steroid creams have been used traditionally to treat sunburn but some studies don’t show any effective relief from these. For severe burns, do not open up the blisters that may form and you should generally consult your friendly pediatrician since some of the exposed skin can potentially become infected.
Summer is a fun time for all of us, and it’s imperative to exercise caution, to prevent serious ailments. Encourage your teens to limit outdoor activities during extremely hot and humid weather. Talk to your teen’s sports coaches and find out what steps are in place to prevent and treat heat related accidents. Remind your teens often, to use their insect repellant and sunscreen and wear the appropriate clothing, even if their friends think they don’t look cool.
If you think your child has a severe reaction to an insect bite or a heat related emergency, call 911 and give the basic first aid you can, whilst you wait for help. Never be afraid to ask your pediatrician questions about preventing insect bites and heat related accidents and sunburn. Remember they are there to help you. Enjoy the summer safely and remember that these tips just serve as a guide, and are not meant to treat your child.