Keeping Your Kids Safe in the Sun

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Summer is so much fun for your kids to be outdoors and play.  This is however more likely the time when your child(ren) may have some skin issues and itchiness! Check out some of the top questions and concerns that arise this time of year!

 

What are the best ways to protect your children from the sun?

When outside, avoid peak sun hours – 10 am-2 pm generally – and ensure your child is well protected with a hat or sunglasses and sunblock.

Infants younger than 6 months should stay out of the sun as much as possible. If outside, ensure they are kept in the shade and have a hat and sunglasses and other sun-protective clothing. They should not use sunblock as it is not recommended to use sunblock on children less than 6 months old.

For children over 6 months, buy and use ‘broad spectrum’ sunblock which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It should be SPF 15 or higher.

Always remember to apply sunblock 15 minutes before going outside, as it needs to absorb to start working. Put in on THICK all over.  Reapply every two hours and also after your child sweats, goes in the pool or water.  If able and time allows, it is a good idea to try a new product on a little area of the skin several days prior to use to see if your child has a reaction to it. If you see any rash, try a different product.

Another option is a sunblock with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These both provide UVA and UVB protection and are not chemicals, so they are great for children with sensitive skin as it won’t typically cause a reaction. You also don’t have to apply it in advance because sunblock with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide works by sitting on top of the skin to protect from the sun. It is not absorbed and will start working as soon as you put it on.

Any other sunblock tips?

For children, the stick option of sunblock works wonders.  It really decreases the eye irritation that some children get when rubbing their eyes after having sunblock on their face

Also, remember even if it is cloudy, you can get a sunburn so be sure to apply sunblock still on cloudy days.

What to do if your child still gets a sunburn?

Aloe products do work well to soothe the skin.  Also, an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen can help.  Any concern be sure to call your pediatrician.

My child seems to get so many bug bites.  What can I do to prevent them? And what do I do when they get them and can’t stop itching?

Bug bites of all kinds are quite common this time of year and while your children are out and about.  This is for sure the time when your children will be itchy!

If your child does develop a bite, most are bothersome but not serious.  Try Benadryl or calamine lotions or oatmeal baths (such as Aveeno).  Cool compresses or ice packs help the itching as well.  Other anti-itch creams, such as hydrocortisone, are available but refer to your pediatrician first to see if it is necessary.  Most bug bites heal quickly.  Rarely they can get secondarily infected so if there is any concern of increasing redness or infection, contact your pediatrician.

What do I need to know about insect repellent?

There are many different insect repellents.  If using an insect repellent with DEET, the important things to remember are you want to have no more than 30% DEET as the American Academy of Pediatric states this wouldn’t be any more effective.  Do not use on children less than 2 months of age. it is important to always follow directions on the use. Use only on clothing and exposed skin and avoid inhalation.  For the face, it is best to use by applying to your hands first and then rubbing on skin.   The insect repellent that is most effective for ticks is that which contains a product called permethrin.  This however should ONLY be used on your child’s clothing and not their skin.  Do not use the combination insect repellent with sunblock, as you want to keep reapplying sunblock as mentioned above, but not the insect repellent.  Lastly, be sure to wash off completely when coming indoors.

Will my child still need tick checks if I use bug repellent?

Yes, you still want to be sure you check your child for ticks if you were in any area of concern and they were playing in the outdoors or grassy areas.  As labor intensive as this may seem, the check only takes a few minutes after being outdoors and is quite important and beneficial.

What else is common in these hot summer months?

It is not uncommon for younger infants and young girls to develop irritation in the diaper area or groin area respectively, especially in the hot humid months called vaginitis.  Causes may be often from sitting in wet bathing suits after swimming, so be mindful of this if your daughter begins to complain of irritation, discomfort or itchiness.  Treatments include plain warm water baths, minimal bubble baths, cotton underwear and removing bathing suits right after swimming.  The good news is although this is quite bothersome for your little, it is not serious and resolves quickly.  Be sure to speak to your doctor however, as they can recommend a cream if needed for itchiness as well as ensure there is not something else going on.

Alison Mitzner, M.D. is a board certified pediatrician. She received her medical degree from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse. After completing her pediatric residency at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset NY, she practiced general pediatrics for five years in a private practice in Manhattan, NY. During her years practicing, she was also an attending pediatrician at multiple New York City teaching hospitals where she admitted and examined newborns and pediatric patients. Additionally she supervised and taught hospital residents and medical students in various aspects of clinical and academic medicine. Alison has since moved into the pharmaceutical industry. She has had experience in the industry with leading safety teams and physicians and currently mentors many physicians globally.
Alison enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences as a pediatrician (and mom) with other moms and dads in addition to supporting moms-to-be. She has contributed to various online websites and blogs. She also has an interest for creating healthier lifestyles and safer environments for pregnant women and children. Her outside interests include working out, acting, piano, guitar, dance, and being a mom!

You can find Alison at www.alisonmitznermd.com and follow on Instagram @alisonmitznermd

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