Dr. Hes’ Summer Safety:

June 25, 2012

As a mom of children ages 5 1/2 and 8 1/2 years old, I know that applying sunscreen can be a challenge and re-applying…as they say in Brooklyn…fuggedaboutit!

So what is an adult to do with the kids?  I recommend applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, 30 minutes before leaving the house.  As the SPF gets higher, so does the time between reapplication. I do not recommend using combination bug repellent and sunscreen because the bug repellent lasts most of the day and sunscreen needs to be applied frequently.

Lotions offer better protection than sprays, but with my kids, who are always on the move, I use the sprays.  On the face, I like to use a stick sunscreen, so it does not bleed into their eyes.  It is also good for the ears.

For babies under six months,  the AAP recommends shade, a hat, and clothing to protect them from the sun.  If you must use sunscreen, again, use a stick on the face that is hypoallergenic.  Remember, lotions can bleed into a baby’s eye and they have no way of communicating this to you aside from crying.   There have been cases of corneal burns in babies from sunscreen.  

Remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming and or sprinklers.  I always keep several sunscreens with us: one in the car, one in the stroller, one in each child’s backpack. This way we are prepared.

Most large stores for children sell clothing that is UV protected. It’s a wise idea to send kids to camp or the park with a hat and a sun shirt. Many camps place the responsibility of applying sunscreen on the kids and we all know how that will turn out. If you know that you put your child in a sun shirt you can worry about one less thing.

Kids need to be well hydrated.  Always pack a water bottle on outings. Babies as young as 4 months can drink water. Parents always want to know, “How much?”.  One to three ounces in between feeds on a hot day can keep a baby well hydrated. Do not take a baby out during the hottest hours from 10am-4pm unless you know that there is shade and a cool place for the baby.

Kids should have water safe shoes for the park. I see kids all the time who are brought in to the office for “athlete’s foot”, but it is really peeling from burnt feet on the hot playground floor.

Babies can take a dunk in the pool with an adult at any time. Just make sure the baby has a hat on or is in the shady side of the pool.   Of course, never leave a child unattended by a pool and if you have a pool, make sure it is properly enclosed with a fence.

Hope this advice helps you have a fun and healthy summer!
Dyan Hes, MD

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