Summer Blog 2019
Are we feeling the heat? Finally, am I right? We here at CTMC are just as excited to enjoy some much needed sunlight. Before we head out, I wanted to share some tips to keep those little ones safe and healthy this summer. For the wee ones, try to keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, an umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
When possible, dress yourself and your children in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, such as lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats. Hats should have an all-around 3-inch brim to shield the face, ears, and back of the neck. Limit sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when UV rays are strongest. Last but not least: Use sunscreen! But the sunscreen aisle has like 50 different kinds!
Look for something without a lot of added scent or the ingredient oxybenzone. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (up to SPF 50). An SPF of 15 or 30 should be fine for most people.
For sensitive areas of the body, such as the nose, cheeks, tops of the ears, and shoulders, choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These products may stay visible on the skin even after you rub them in. Put sunscreen on 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. It needs time to absorb into the skin. Try to use sunscreen any time you or your child spend time outdoors. Remember that you can get sunburn even on cloudy days. Reapply it every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel. For babies younger than 6 months: Use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face, if protective clothing and shade are not available.
Now let’s talk hydration. Since they have a higher body surface area compared to adults, children get dehydrated much quicker. Most suggest trying to get them to pause for a few sips of water every 15 min. Many children resist this but you can get creative by offering treats with a higher water content. Think about watermelon, snow cones, popsicles. I don’t encourage sports drinks due to the excessive amount of sugar in some of them but, that being said if your child will be out in the heat exerting themselves heavily you do want them to replace some electrolytes so I suggest diluting a sports drink with water. Keep an extra attentive eye on children with Autism since sometimes they are less aware of their own needs and may not be able to communicate as effectively or ask for water. Be on guard for signs of heat exhaustion and the more severe form of that which is Heat Stroke. Heat stroke is a severe type of heat illness that occurs when a child’s body creates more heat than it can release and is unable to cool itself. This can cause their core body temperature to rise rapidly. If not treated quickly it can cause brain damage or death. Symptoms include body temperature above 104˚ F, headaches, absence of sweating, flushed, hot and dry skin, fainting, dizziness or weakness, fast breathing or rapid heartbeat, vomiting, if especially severe, seizures may occur as well. If your child has been outdoors, or in any hot environment, and shows symptoms, seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
I feel like I’ve lectured a lot already! But just a couple more items! Water! It’s everywhere here in Minnesota and no lifejacket is a substitute for adequate supervision. Teach your children to never enter water without an adult with them. If you happen to be on a boat, everyone needs a lifejacket. No discussion.
Bugs. There’s no getting away from them. Most are simply annoying like mosquitos but some can carry disease. Ticks are probably the biggest concern here in MN. Whenever you or your children have been playing outdoors you should check them for ticks, remember to check the hair too since it’s easy for them to be missed if they’re small. We worry about Lyme disease with deer ticks that have been attached longer than 24 hrs. If you find a tick but it is not attached, just remove it. If it’s attached you can remove them with tweezers. The head may remain buried in the skin, this is not a problem, your body will deal with it. If it is engorged and you don’t know for sure how long it was there then give us a call or come in, also put the wee body in a bag so we can identify which species it is. So much fun, eh? Also be on the lookout for the famous “Bullseye Rash”. It can be anywhere not just where the tick bite was, it is generally flat and not painful or itchy. It literally looks a lot like the Target logo. If you something that looks like this then we do need the child to come into clinic to confirm and decide on the right treatment. Don’t worry too much. Lyme is very treatable especially if caught early.
I feel like I just made summer sound super scary! Honestly, it’s not, it’s full of opportunity for a great time with the little ones if we just use a little common sense! Even then accidents happen and in that case, we’re here for you!
Jennifer Rousseau, MD
Child and Teen Medical Center