June 25, 2024
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Keeping Your Children Safe in the Summer

This month I wanted to discuss some safety issues related to the rapidly improving weather. First I’d like to talk about sun safety. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause serious skin damage in a relatively short period of time so protection is always necessary for your children when they are outside. I’m frequently asked about the minimum age for the use sunscreens. Avoiding sun exposure and dressing infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts and brimmed hats is still the top recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics to prevent sunburn in infants less than six months of age. However, when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands. The sunscreen should be one recommended for children and it should have a high SPF factor. The overall time period of direct sun exposure should be kept to less than 30-minute intervals. For children older than six months parents can be more liberal with the sunscreen. It should be applied at least half an hour before going outside, and it should have an SPF of 15 or higher. For older children, sunglasses are also recommend to block the ultraviolet rays from reaching the eyes. A hat is helpful, but, most importantly, stay out of the sun whenever possible during the peak intensity hours of 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or profuse sweating.

I also wanted to give some advice on avoiding annoying insects. First of all, don’t use scented soaps, perfumes, or hair sprays on your child, and avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom. Try not to dress your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints as these may attract insects.

If a child is ever stung by a bee or a wasp, parents need to check if the stinger is still embedded in the skin. To remove a visible stinger from skin the AAP recommends gently scraping it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail. Parents can then administer Benadryl to control itching, apply ice to prevent swelling and administer Tylenol or Motrin for pain control. If your child has a known allergy to bee stings watch for signs of anaphylaxis such as tongue or lip swelling, wheezing, difficulty breathing, itchy throat or the sensation of the throat “closing up.” If this occurs use your EpiPen and seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY!!

Dr. Robert Jawetz is a pediatrician at Tenafly Pediatrics.

By Robert Jawetz, MD, FAAP

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