An online newsletter article for parents offering 15 tips to help children stay safe and healthy in the summer.

15 Tips to Help Your Child Avoid Irritating, Itchy, and Icky Ailments this Summer

By Shannan Seely

It’s summer. If you hate your time poolside or lakeside to be curtailed due to illness, you’ve come to the right place. Here, some current tips to keep you and your family healthy. Once you’re prepared, you can be carefree … and avert a trip to the emergency room.

1) Practice Sun Protection – Sunscreen is Not Enough

Do you think once you’ve applied sunscreen, you have it all covered? Not quite. Applying sunscreen is only part of being sun smart. Follow these tips, and you can decrease you and your children’s skin cancer risk.

  • More than 1 out of every 3 Americans reports getting sunburned each year. Sunburn is a clear sign of overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays, a major cause of skin cancer.1
  • Stay in the shade.
  • Avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the northern hemisphere).
  • The more skin you cover, the better. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.2
  • Applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.3 How much sunscreen? Dermatologists recommend measuring “1 ounce, enough to fill a shot glass.”4
  • Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

2) Leaves of Three, Let Them Be!

Ever had a rash from poison ivy? Bet you never forgot the itching that persisted for over a week. Your discomfort was unbearable at times. Teaching the rhyme, “Leaves of three, let them be!” will help your children steer clear of the nasty plants when they explore the outdoors.

What else can you do?

  • Help children learn to identify plants like poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak. All these plants contain the same rash-causing substance, urishiol. It’s a colorless, odorless resin contained in the leaves of the plants.5 Urushiol causes a rash, itching, and occasionally swelling symptoms. About 60% to 80% of people are affected and the symptoms can appear within hours of contact or as much as five days later.5
  • Show them the areas to avoid where you know there’s poison ivy.
  • Have them wear long sleeves and long pants when in areas where poison ivy might grow.
  • If your children come into contact with urushiol oil, have them try to wash it off their skin immediately by using lots of soap in the shower.5

3) Avoid Ticks

While our children are active outdoors, so are ticks. Reducing exposure is the best defense against Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other tickborne infections.

What can you do to prevent tickborne diseases? Follow these tips:

  • Be informed. Lyme disease is spread through the bite of a blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus) that is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi.6 In the United States, most infections occur in these endemic areas:6
    • Northeast and mid-Atlantic, from northeastern Virginia to Maine
    • North central states, mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota
    • West Coast, particularly northern California
  • Stay on well-worn paths in nature areas.
  • Wear 20% concentration of DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) insect repellent.7
  • Check the body for ticks after enjoying the outdoors — Don’t forget to look behind your child’s ears, in the scalp, under the arms, and in the groin area.
  • And forget the home remedies — tick removal is simple. Remove attached ticks with tweezers. For a guide on how to remove ticks correctly, visit here.7

Share these tips with your friends to have an enjoyable summer!

 

References

  1. Skin cancer: quick facts. Surgeon General Website. https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/prevent-skin-cancer/fact-sheet.html. Published 2014. Accessed July 10, 2017.
  2. What you need to know about clothing. The Skin Cancer Foundation Website. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/clothing. Published 2016. Accessed July 10, 2017.
  3. Are there benefits to spending time outdoors? Centers of Disease Control and Prevention Website. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/outdoors.htm. Published 2017. Accessed July 10, 2017.
  4. Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology Website. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs. Accessed July 10, 2017.
  5. Poison ivy. KidsHealth Website. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/poison-ivy.html?WT.ac=en-p-summer-center-h. Published 2014. Accessed July 10, 2017.
  6. Lyme disease frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/faq/index.html. Published 2017. Accessed July 11, 2017.
  7. Lyme disease: what you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/resources/brochure/lymediseasebrochure.pdf. Accessed July 11, 2017.