CONTRIBUTING EXPERT – View from the Pediatrician’s Office by Victoria McEvoy, M.D.
Summer is here. Children are released from the pressures of school. Play and exercise take place outdoors. Colds and stomach bugs are pushed to the back burner. Families may get to spend more time together. But summer brings a new set of hazards. Poison ivy, sunburn, bug bites, athletic injuries, and animal bites can bring a new set of hazards to children.
What can you do to keep your child safe during the summer months?
1) What should I use for sunblock for my baby?
New guidelines have been introduced by the FDA to abort misleading advertising in the sunscreen world.
* Babies under 6 months of age should be covered up and shielded from the sun. Sunscreen is not recommended for infants under 6 months of age.
* Sunscreen should offer at least SPF (sun protection factor) of 30. Over 50 is not incrementally better.
* Universal protection, meaning protection against both UVA and UVB should be listed on the sunblock. UVA rays cause aging of the skin as well as skin cancer. UVB causes sunburn and skin cancer.
* Umbrella and other sun shielding devices do not offer total protection from sun. Sunscreen should still be applied.
* Sunscreen listed as water proof is inaccurate; water resistance is the best that some sunblocks can offer.
* Most sunblocks need to be reapplied every 40 to 80 minutes.
* Check on the sunblock tube to be sure you apply adequate amounts of sunblock.
* Sprays are not thought to be as effective as creams or lotions.
2) Why does my baby have big red welts on his arm or leg when he gets a bug bite- is he allergic or are these bites infected?
* We all develop some degree of a wheal and flare reaction-i.e. redness and swelling- at the site of a bug bite. Young children seem to have a more dramatic reaction to simple insect bite. The wheal and flare reaction is an allergic response. Cold packs and/or Benadryl if itchy can suffice. Occasionally bug bites do get infected if a child picks and itches at the bite.
3) My child has eczema but he loves to swim- what should I do about the chlorine?
* It is wonderful for children to swim in the summer. Once he gets out of the pool, be sure to thoroughly rinse and wipe off the chlorinated water. Then apply a moisturizer after showering.
* Avoid having your child sit around in a wet diaper or bathing suit if he has sensitive especially on hot, humid days.
4) How can I prevent Lyme disease; I am worried sick about ticks?
* Children should play outside if safety precautions are observed. If he is in a woodsy are, have him wear long pants and shirt if you live in an endemic tick area.
* Do tick checks every night before bed after bath- go over all parts of the body including the scalp to look for feasting ticks.
* If you find a tick and it has been attached for less than 36 hours, it is unlikely to transmit Lyme Disease.
Victoria McEvoy, M.D., is the author of “The 24/7 Baby Doctor, a Harvard Pediatrician Answers All Your Questions From Birth to One Year,” Lyons Press.