Healthy ways to enjoy summer fun


Kids and outdoor summer fun go together like peanut butter and jelly. To keep your children protected at the pool and the playground, plan ahead and play it safe, especially when dealing with two of the season’s major health concerns: sun overexposure and insect bites.

For children of all ages, I recommend applying sunscreen with an SPF greater than 15 every two hours and more frequently if kids are in the pool or under a sprinkler. It’s perfectly acceptable to use sunscreen on newborns – look for formulas made for babies, and be sure to test the product on a small area of your baby’s arm or leg before applying liberally. If the sunscreen causes redness or a rash in the test area, choose a different formula.

Sun-protective clothing for kids is also available. Hats and sunglasses (rated for UVA and UVB protection) are also recommended for newborns and older children.

When it comes to protecting children from insect bites, begin by ensuring kids wear long sleeves and/or long pants when outdoors after dusk or in wooded areas. Choose an insect repellant with DEET, but never use products with more than 10 percent DEET on children. Some “deep woods” formulas contain as much as 30 percent DEET and can cause harmful reactions in children. Combination products that provide both insect and sun protection are not recommended, as these bug/sun formulas provide too much exposure to the insect repellant when applied every two hours for proper sun protection.

If your child has insect bites, offering an oral antihistamine (with diphenhydramine) will help. Avoid topical diphenhydramine sprays, however, which cause sensitization. Once sensitized, a person can develop a reaction to topical diphenhydramine. For additional relief, apply a topical hydrocortisone cream to itchy bites several times a day. Cool baths help relieve itching and will keep affected areas clean to prevent infection.