Children’s skin and eyes both need protection from the sun. Preventing sunburns is by far the best prevention against the development of skin cancer later in life. The younger and fairer skinned your child, the more careful you should be about protecting his or her skin.
Follow these prevention tips:
- Use a sunscreen lotion! Any product that is approved for children is fine, but the protective factor (SPF) should be at least SPF 30. The higher the number, the greater the protection.
- Sunscreen can be used at any age, but try to keep infants out of the sun. Infants should be protected with hats, light clothing and shade.
- Remember to apply sunscreen anytime your child is playing outdoors, not just at the beach or pool (golf, baseball, etc.).
- Most sunscreens need to be reapplied after long periods of swimming or profuse sweating (at least every 2 hours).
- Try to keep sun exposure to small amounts (15 to 30 minutes), especially during the hours of the strongest sun (10am-2pm).
- Remember, 80% of the sun’s damaging rays still get through the clouds on overcast days.
- In addition to sunscreen, hats, caps, and sunglasses are often fun for children to wear and are another important part of sun protection.
- Do not use combination sunscreen/insect repellants, because the insect repellent decreases the effectiveness of the sunscreen.
As we start spending more time outdoors, it is important to consider poison ivy. It grows throughout New England and nearly 85% of people react to it. Preventing exposure is the best intervention. Look for shrubs or vines with groups of three leaves, which will look shiny. In late summer and fall, there will be clusters of white berries. Avoid contact with these leaves. Wear protective clothing if hiking through woods or areas where the plant is suspected. Should contact or suspected contact be made, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Should a rash develop, contact your doctor for evaluation of rashes covering large areas of the body or in sensitive areas such as genitalia or eyes. We always encourage calling with any questions.
An easy tip for remembering:
“Leaves of three, let them be: Berries white, run in fright.”
Along with sun and fun, spring and summer bring a variety of biting and stinging creatures. Fortunately, most insect bites are harmless, and apart from some minor swelling and itching, they are no more than a nuisance. These pests can be warded off with the proper use of insect repellents.
Follow these tips:
Tick and insect repellents that contain up to 30% DEET are the most effective and are safe for children more than 2 months of age. Use according to product label instructions. Apply sparingly and only to exposed skin (not under clothing). Avoid the child’s face, hands, and any skin that is irritated or abraded. The most important places to apply insect repellants are the neck and behind the ears. After the child returns indoors, wash the repellent off with soap and water.
In addition to DEET on the skin, permethrin (e.g., “Repel Permanone”) is available in a repellent spray for application to clothing (not skin). It kills ticks on contact and lasts on clothing for two weeks. Do not use combination sunscreen/insect repellants.
Insect netting, bland colored clothing, and the use of unscented shampoos and lotions will also help decrease insect bites. Additional protection includes hats, socks, shoes, long sleeves, and long pants, especially if the pants are tucked into the socks. And don’t forget to inspect yourself and your children’s bodies once you come indoors.
For the best defense against West Nile Virus, the CDC recommends the chemical DEET. Picaridin or oil of eucalyptus is also effective alternatives against mosquito bites.