I just love it when it gets warm here! Flowers blooming, birds chirping and getting darker later! Unfortunately there are also some scary things that can happen to our little ones during spring and summer – so let’s go over a few pointers and guiding principles to keep your little ones safe and smiling.
Maybe we have swung too far in sun avoidance. Some experts actually want us to get a bit more natural sun, and Vitamin D levels can get pretty low even in kids. Nonetheless, especially with the little ones, I think it’s best to aim to avoid most sun, and allow for the incidental sun. Any time we know we are going to be outside, we should put sunscreen on all over a good 15 minutes before leaving the house. Use a good kid’s brand, and not one with parabens. An excellent source for looking at all the potential toxins in creams and sunscreens can be found at the environmental working group (ewg.org). I really trust them, and they will list and rank all the brands out there. You can’t go wrong with California Baby, Blue Lizard, Badger, and Babyganics, but there are a ton of excellent brands for kids. Remember to reapply every 2-3 hours and sooner if they get wet.
If you do get a sunburn, usually it will be mild, and you can use over the counter moisturizers such as vanicream, cerave for baby, or aquaphor, but if there is blistering and skin breakdown it is time to see the doctor.
Summer in Brooklyn can be absolutely treacherous when it comes to mosquitos. We try organic natural bug sprays, and these critters laugh at us. It feels horrible when our little ones get bitten up, but almost always they will get better on their own, so in most cases there is no medical concern. Any time you get a bite, it can swell, and some kids have a huge reaction to bites. You can use Benadryl (check drgilgoff.com for proper doses according to their weight), liquid after-bite preparations, hydrocortisone 1% or calamine lotion for their comfort.
Some bites cause actual infections – spreading redness and even pus – so see your doctor if any bite is getting worse and spreading. Taking pictures can help show the progression, but it can be tricky! Some bites are not infected, but are actually large, red, and tender – and those are actually the same signs of a cellulitis or abscess – types of skin infections. So if you are worried, it’s best to come in for a same day visit to catch a potential infection early.
Zika virus is a work in progress in terms of our knowledge and recommendations, but as of 2017, we really don’t see much to worry about in terms of serious effects on a healthy child. If you are pregnant it can be a different story, and there are updates every week or two in terms of prevention and testing, so check out the www.cdc.gov website for the latest info. West Nile Virus is so scary, but is quite rare, and if your child has that illness they become very sick and weak, so see your doctor if you have concerns about that. We do worry about our little ones so much – so I can’t tell you NOT to worry about these rare diseases with each mosquito bite. In other countries they have malaria and other diseases to think about each day. But luckily those are very very rare over here, and there is nothing you can do with each individual bite to prevent the mosquito from having West Nile or Zika or not, so it’s safe to just watch and wait and assume it isn’t anything serious.
The organic child bug spray is the safest to use, but as kids get older ,and stop putting everything in their mouth, it is safe to try a low strength of DEET, especially if it is only on the clothes and not the skin. Certain times or locations are also just asking for trouble – like at dusk on a humid day, or being near a body of water. But it seems in Brooklyn you just can’t avoid getting attacked no matter where you go!
Not all that bites are mosquito bites – so remember to see your doctor if the bites are literally all over or spreading or don’t look like mosquito bites. We continue to see patients with bed bugs, fleas and scabies, so come and see us for any rash that looks like it is spreading and getting worse.
This is an area where every parent is aware and cognizant of the risks, but I fear we don’t all take it serious enough. The risk of drowning is so enormous with our little ones. Even a bath could be a huge risk, but certainly a pool or large body of water is a set up for a disaster. There are few summer scenes more enjoyable than hundreds of kids at the pool or beach, but please always take the proper precautions to ensure your child is 100% supervised, and this is even after they have aced all their swim lessons and have the independence of a teenager in their soul. Children should never be unattended near any body of water.
Having your little newborn in your arms in a pool or ocean can be fun for a minute, but don’t let them ingest the water. There have been some very scary stories about secondary drowning, but that is luckily extremely rare, and children get water in their mouth all the time. If there was a significant ingestion of water, along with choking or the need for resuscitation, of course come see us immediately. We usually say 6 months is a safe age for swimming classes.
For some, the chemicals used can irritate the skin, or get those eyes red, but in general, there is nothing more fun for our kids than 8 hours in a pool! So get out there, be safe and enjoy the summer!
Please see may article on lyme disease for more information on tick bites and testing and prevention of this condition.