Summer Safety

6/1/2021 | Nicole Van Steyn, MD, FAAP, CLC

Sun Safety

Excessive sun exposure in childhood can not only lead to painful sunburns, but long-term damage that can lead to skin cancer later in life. The best way to protect your child from the sun’s harmful rays is to provide a broad-spectrum sunblock on exposed parts of their body when they go outside to play. Broad spectrum sunblock provides protection against UV-A and UV-B light and is safe to use in children > 6 months of age. Using a waterproof sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and following these simple tips will keep your child protected.

  • Minimize sun exposure between the hours of 10 am – 3 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
  • Sand and water reflect the sun and increase the risk for sunburns. Remember to reapply often and cover your skin with a rash guard or cover-up when at the pool or beach.
  • Not all clothing will block the sun’s rays. Look for clothing with an SPF rating. Darker colors and tightly woven fabrics are best.
  • Remember to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that block 99-100% of UVA and a wide brimmed hat.
  • Apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or other vigorous activity. 
  • Choose sunscreens with Zinc Oxide or Titanium Oxide as the active ingredient.
  • If your infant (<6 months of age) cannot be kept shaded and covered, use a small amount of SPF15+ sunblock on the exposed areas of skin.
  • For more information on sunscreens click here.


Insect Bites

Warmer weather during the summer is a great opportunity to get outside for exercise, but it’s important to protect against biting insects that are active this time of year. The most effective means of protection is by using a repellant that contains DEET. These products should not be used in infants less than 2 months of age and should not contain more than 30% concentration. In addition, the following measures can be taken to minimize the use of bug spray and keep your child protected.

  • Mosquitos are most active at dusk and dawn. Avoid playing outside during these times.
  • Dress in lightweight clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Don’t use scented soaps, lotions, perfumes or hairspray.
  • Avoid using repellant around eyes, broken or irritated skin, or under clothing.
  • If using a spray, do not spray the face. Apply first to your hands and rub onto the face.
  • Do not apply to your child’s hands.
  • Wash or bathe treated skin when returning indoors.
  • Use of combination sunscreen/insect repellants are discouraged as sunscreen should be reapplied frequently, but insect spray should not.


Tick Bites

Though Lyme disease is not as prevalent in Ohio as it is in other states, remember that certain ticks can transmit disease. If your summer adventures include activities in wooded areas, it’s important to know how to prevent tick bites and how to properly remove a tick, should a bite occur. Here are some tips on how to prevent tick bites.

  • Treat your clothing with 0.5% permethrin
  • Wear a DEET -containing repellant and light weight clothing that covers your skin.
  • If wearing long pants through high grass, you can tuck them into your socks, and ensure that you are wearing close-toed hiking shoes.
  • Cover your head with a hat.
  • Shower after carefully removing clothing, which may have ticks attached.
  • Check your/your child’s skin for ticks, especially on folds of the body (under arms, behind knees, behind the ears) and the scalp.

For additional information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website here.


Tick Removal

Remember not to panic, as it takes 48-72 hours of tick attachment to effectively transmit disease. However, it is important to remove the tick as soon as possible. The following steps will help teach you how to do so at home.

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  • Pay close attention not to squeeze the body of the tick, but rather the neck/head area.
  • Pull upwards with steady, even pressure, taking care not to twist or jerk, as this may cause some of its mouthparts to break off under the skin. If this happens, pull them out separately with the tweezers, or just leave them alone.
  • After removing the tick, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol.
  • Flush the tick down the toilet.
  • Another tick removal method involves putting liquid soap on a cotton ball, place the cotton ball on the tick, move it counterclockwise for 30 seconds. Often, the tick will detach.

If you develop a rash, fever, or joint pain within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

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