|infants & toddlers|
|Summer Preventative Medicine:
Sun protection, Insect Repellants, Ticks & Heat Illness
By Donna Lombardi, MD
Summer has finally arrived... that time of the year when we must protect ourselves and our families when spending time outdoors. Here are some helpful hints for you on sun exposure, insect bites, ticks and heat illness.
The Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics both endorse the use of sunscreens as an important part of a total sun protection program that also includes sun avoidance and sun protective clothing. The best way to prevent skin cancer is to prevent sunburn. Sun damage begins in childhood and is cumulative. UV light, from sun exposure, can reach the skin not only directly, but through reflection from snow, sand, water, sidewalks, and turf. UV exposure increases 4% for every 1,000 feet elevation above sea level. The following are some ways to help decrease the risk of sunburn and sun damage.
The active ingredient in some insect repellents is DEET (diethyltoluamide). Excessive application of repellents containing DEET can cause seizures and coma through absorption across the skin. To avoid these complications use products that contain less than 10% DEET. Examples are Skedaddle! cream, Off! and Skintastic for Children lotion. The insect repellent should be applied mainly to clothing and shoes. Never apply it to your children's hands to prevent contact with their mouth or eyes. Avoid rashes or skin that is abraded or sunburned since absorption is increased in these areas. Since one application lasts 4 to 8 hours, apply twice a day.
The most common tick-borne disease in the U.S. is Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is endemic in CT. It occurs primarily in the spring and summer, and this year tick infestation has been projected to be particularly high because of the mild winter. Lyme Disease is a multi-system infection with greatest involvement of the skin, neurologic system, and joints. The disease is transmitted to humans by the deer tick. Tick-borne diseases are very treatable illnesses if caught early and treated properly with antibiotics.
Tick-borne diseases are largely preventable. If tick-infested areas cannot be avoided, parents can minimize their child's exposure by taking the following precautions.
Heat stroke is a potentially life-threatening condition. The body's temperature may be 105° F or higher, and the skin is hot, red and dry. In heat exhaustion, the body temperature is normal or near-normal, but the child sweats profusely and the skin is moist and clammy. It is imperative to get your child to a cool environment, remove the clothing, cover the body with towels cooled in ice water, and call for medical assistance. Children and adolescents who exercise in hot weather are vulnerable to heat illnesses that may be serious, even life-threatening. In addition, infants may develop heat illnesses because the body's mechanism for regulating temperature is not fully developed. Fortunately, a few common sense precautions can help prevent heat illness.
|Donna Lombardi, MD is a practicing pediatrician at Maple Avenue Pediatrics in Fairlawn, N.J. NOTE: This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your personal healthcare provider.|
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