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Swimmer’s Ear to Sunburns: How to Protect Kids From Common Summer Health Hazards

Swimmer’s Ear to Sunburns: How to Protect Kids From Common Summer Health Hazards

You can take a few precautions to help prevent sunburns, ear infections, bug bites, and other summertime complaints, whether your kids will spend the summer exploring the beach or the wide open spaces of your own backyard. Internal medicine physician Bharat Gandhi, MD, and the team at MediNet Family Care Clinic in Houston, Texas, is happy to offer some advice on how to keep common summer health problems from ruining your plans.

Remember to apply sunscreen

Apply sunscreen liberally whenever your children go outside, and reapply it frequently throughout the day to prevent sunburns.

You may find it easy to remember sunscreen when your kids are going to the beach or the pool, but even if they are spending the day in a shady backyard or park, the sun can still burn them. Also, don't forget to apply sunscreen liberally to your summer athletes during practices or games.

Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 to 30. If you have sunscreen left over from last year, you can probably use it because the formulations are designed to last three years, but check the expiration date.

Babies under the age of six months should spend their time outside in the shade or under an umbrella rather than in direct sunlight. Add a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV-protective lenses to your child's summer wardrobe to further limit potentially harmful sun exposure.

Take it easy when it’s hot

Children are at risk of developing serious heat-related illnesses during summertime activities unless they are in the water where it is cool, especially when the heat index rises above 90.

When it’s particularly hot out, taking it easy and being aware can prevent:

The severity of these symptoms varies, but may include:

When the weather is hot, limit your child's outdoor activities and make sure they drink plenty of water, even if they don't feel thirsty.

Make sure that babysitters, sports coaches, and other caregivers are aware of the dangers of summer heat. If your child develops any concerning symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

Avoiding swimmer’s ear

The term "swimmer's ear" refers to an infection of the outer ear canal (otitis externa) caused by water remaining in the ear after swimming. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons for emergency pediatric care visits, and this provides a moist environment for bacterial growth.

After swimming, dry your child's ears thoroughly with a soft towel and then finish the job with a hairdryer to help prevent moisture that can lead to an infection. Aim the dryer directly at the ear from a distance of at least 12 inches, using the lowest setting.

Encourage your child to wear earplugs while swimming to help prevent water from entering the outer ear canal. You could also try eardrops formulated to promote drying, which are sold over-the-counter for the prevention of swimmer's ear. If your child has ear tubes or a punctured eardrum, don't use these drops.

Warding off mosquitos

Mosquito bites are often extremely itchy, and they can transmit dangerous illnesses such as the West Nile virus. Use a non-toxic insect repellent to keep these tiny critters away from your children.

Dress the kids in lightweight long-sleeve shirts, pants, socks, and shoes if the weather permits. Also, make sure to remove any standing water from garden accessories or other potential mosquito breeding areas.

Summertime brings more opportunities for minor mishaps but with some know-how, you can help your children have a safe and fun summer. For more tips, and for all of your family health care needs, give our Houston, Texas office a call to schedule a visit with Dr. Gandhi. 

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