Beware of Bee Stings
Bees are attracted to flowers, so don't put fragrances or floral-patterned clothing on kids. Likewise, don't leave out open containers of food and drink, and if your kid's clothes get stained, change them. Should a bee land on or next to your child, remain calm and gently blow it away.
How to Treat: If your child gets stung, brush the stinger away with the edge of a credit card. Next, apply a salve of one part meat tenderizer to four parts water and leave it on the area for about 30 minutes to neutralize the venom. Then apply cold compresses and topical hydrocortisone cream, and give an oral antihistamine to reduce swelling. You could also apply a paste of baking soda and water.
Special Concerns: Bee stings often look worse the next day -- skin reactions are normal and may last up to a week. But some people have severe allergic reactions to bee stings that include all-over hives, difficulty breathing, dizziness or fainting, and swelling of the lips and tongue. These can be life-threatening reactions that require immediate medical help. If your child has this allergy, his doctor will prescribe an injectable form of epinephrine, a lifesaving medicine.
Bug Bites, Swimmer's Ear, and Food Poisoning
Bypass Bug Bites
When outside, cover children with lightweight clothing and use mosquito netting over strollers and infant seats. Ticks are also a concern, so check your child's body for them at the end of each day spent outside.
When choosing bug repellents this summer, know that the most effective products contain DEET because it's proven to repel both mosquitoes and ticks. Products with a DEET concentration of less than 30 percent are safe for kids, but not for babies under 2 months old. Apply the repellent once a day and don't use combination sunscreen/bug repellent products. All-natural repellents, such as lemon eucalyptus and citronella, aren't proven to protect against ticks, nor should they be used in children younger than 3 years. It's safe to apply them on older kids.
How to Treat: Topical antihistamine preparations can help relieve the itch of mosquito bites. If you find a tick on your kid, use tweezers to pull it off by its head. Ticks have to be embedded in the skin for about 24 hours to transmit germs. If you suspect a tick has been on your child for this long, contact your pediatrician.
Avert Swimmer's Ear
It's an infection of the outer ear canal, and pain is the earliest symptom. As it progresses, you might see drainage from your child's ear and extreme tenderness when her earlobe or the outer part of the ear is tugged. Because swimmer's ear is caused by germs that invade the ear canal due to excess moisture, dry the outside part of the ears after water play.
How to Treat: Apply prescribed antibiotic drops and curb pool time.
Steer Clear of Food Poisoning
If you're outside at a picnic and can't wash your hands (or your kids' hands), use an antibacterial hand gel. Clean all raw fruits and vegetables, and keep raw meats separate from cooked foods. Wash food-preparation surfaces and utensils well, and cook all food thoroughly. If you're marinating food, make sure it's in the refrigerator or a cooler.
The FDA recommends keeping cold food at a temperature of less than 40 F. Make sure to refrigerate all uneaten food, not just foods containing mayonnaise, after one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90 F., or after two hours any other time.
How to Treat: Signs of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Usually there's blood in the stool, as well as a fever. If you suspect that your child has it, contact his doctor. Treatment involves fluids, rest, and a bland diet, but the illness may require medical attention.
First-Aid Kit Essentials
What better time to stock a first-aid kit than at the start of the summer season, when many accidents occur. While you can't prevent all accidents, you can be prepared. Here is a list of helpful things to include:
- Antibacterial gel or foam
- Triple-antibiotic ointment
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Sterile gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cold packs
- Infant and children's Motrin or Tylenol
- Oral antihistamine
- Rubbing alcohol
- Digital thermometer
Sara DuMond, MD, is a pediatrician, a mom of two young children, and an American Baby adviser.
Copyright © 2008 Meredith Corporation. Originally published in June 2007 issue of American Baby magazine.
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