It’s time for some fun in the sun! To ensure a happy and enjoyable summer break, it’s important to arm yourself with the proper protection, prevention, and treatment against summer’s common illnesses.
Christine Caringal, M.D., pediatrician from the National Kidney Institute, says some diseases are common during the hottest months simply because you spend more time outdoors and in public places. Diarrhea is one common problem during the summer. “This is because families often go on out-of-town trips, where sometimes, the drinking water is not clean or sterilized. And when the family returns home, some get a bad case of diarrhea,” she says.
Our bodies contain melanin which protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunburn occurs when your body cannot naturally protect itself from the rays of the sun. The darker you are, the lesser your chances of getting a bad burn, says Dr. Caringal. However, everyone must protect themselves from the sun’s harsh rays no matter the skin tone.
UV rays are strongest during the summer season, most especially here in our country as we are located near the equator. Hence, we need more sun protection.
Symptoms: Did you know that a few minutes of sun exposure can burn your child’s skin? In fact, even hours after being out in the sun, your little one might still feel warm to the touch. “This is because the skin is still reacting to the sun exposure,” says Dr. Caringal. Sunburn usually starts with some redness of the skin, after which the skin begins to itch. After a few days, the burnt skin will start to peel and shed.
Prevention: “Avoid sun exposure especially between 10 a.m. to 12 n.n.,” says Dr. Caringal. Use a sunblock with a sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 15 and with protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Slather on sunblock at least 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow it to be absorbed by the skin and to form a protective layer on the skin. Remember to reapply at least every two hours, depending on how much time your child will be under the sun and how intense its rays are.
Sunblock may be used by children as young as six months. Always make sure to choose one that is formulated for kids. Dr. Caringal recommends putting on sunblock and protective clothing even while inside a car, especially if you’re planning to take a long road trip. And always keep your child hydrated!
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Treatment: After a long day under the sun, one way to soothe the burning is to put a cold compress on the skin. Use emollients or thick lotions to help ease the burning and itchiness, says Dr. Caringal. If the peeling is causing too much pain or discomfort, painkillers or pain relievers may be given to lessen the pain. Don’t let your child peel off his sunburn as this may lead to an infection.
Bring your child to the doctor if he develops fever, skin blistering, nausea, and dizziness, as these may be related to a more serious illness.