Summer is one of our favorite times of year in Memphis! Not only is there so much to do, but we also get to hear all about the fun adventures our patients are taking through the season.
However, while summer is a season of fun, we see many patients because of a common, not-so-fun issue: painful skin conditions. Long hours of daylight, time spent outside, and increased levels of activity are all contributing factors to kids feeling the burn (and itch!) of summer.
Since your child’s skin is so sensitive, it is important to know how to protect his or her skin, but also how to identify larger problems that need medical attention. In our guide below, we walk through some of the common skin problems, along with some warning signs, that are important for parents to know.
Summer Skin Issues in Memphis
What may start out as a simple itch can sometimes escalate into something more – and quickly. Skin conditions can change fast, ranging from slightly irritating to quite painful in a matter of a few hours.
But how can you identify skin issues and prevent them in the future? Let’s cover some of the most common skin problems kids face during warmer months:
Depending upon how prone your child is to sunburn, you may already be familiar with these signs. Reddened, peeling, and painful skin can pop up after time spent in the sun.
Especially when your child is away from you – at camps, with friends, and more – it can be harder to manage and mitigate potential sunburns. While you can pack sunscreen and remind them to put it on every hour, they can sometimes forget.
As soon as you see that a sunburn is coming, it can be helpful to use lotions, aloe vera gel, or a compress (use room-temperature water, not cold water) on the affected area. Sometimes, sunburns can be severe, leaving your child with blisters, or even with sun poisoning. In these cases, it is important to monitor your child to ensure that their condition does not worsen. If it does, call your pediatrician for guidance.
To reduce your child’s chance of sunburning, always keep sunscreen handy, cover up as much as possible (with hats or rash guards at the pool or beach), and take breaks from time in the sun.
As a friendly pediatrician reminder: even if your child is not prone to sunburns, always lather up the sunscreen! Keep their skin healthy for years to come by giving them high SPF-level sunscreen, helping them avoid skin cancer, aging skin, and more.
Bug Bites and Stings
Like sunburns, interaction with bugs increases in the summer due to prolonged hours spent outside. From common mosquito bites and bee stings to more serious spider and tick bites, there are plenty of bugs that will find your kids during the summer months!
Keep your kids safe by wearing bug spray, checking for ticks, and examining unfamiliar bites closely. Also, keep a close eye on how your child is feeling after interaction with bugs. Some larger issues can come about when it comes to mosquito-born viruses and diseases from ticks.
Ticks can sometimes impart Lyme disease. You will know that something is wrong if a large, round, bullseye shaped mark is left on the skin. Call us if this is the case.
For mosquito viruses, it can depend on the area where you are and what cases have been reported. Over the past few years, issues of both Zika and West Nile viruses have been known. When you travel, or even when you are in town, be aware of reported cases and to know how to identify symptoms of these or any other viruses.
Here are the best ways to identify common bug bites:
- Mosquito bite: round, itchy bump that can appear red or pink in color; can be flat or raised, and usually fades within a few days.
- Tick bite: if a tick is not manually removed, it can leave a red mark after it has bitten; this red mark may have a black center, and must be monitored. If the mark expands over a few days, call your doctor. Also contact your doctor if a bullseye circle appears around the site of the bite. Check your child regularly for ticks, especially in hard-to-find areas like the scalp and behind their ears.
- Spider bite: most spider bites are not venomous, but can cause blistering and pain. Put ice on the affected area and treat with hydrocortisone cream to alleviate itching. If you suspect that your child has been bitten by something venomous, such as a brown recluse (however, their bites are rare), the symptoms will be apparent, with intense itching and blistering of the area, plus side effects like fever and nausea. Take your child to the emergency room if you suspect a poisonous spider bite.
- Bee or wasp sting: a bee or wasp sting is usually noticeable because they are quite painful. The first thing to do is remove the stinger, then apply ice to the area. You can give your child Benadryl to help with itchiness and Tylenol or Ibuprofen to help with pain. If your child’s skin begins to swell or they have trouble breathing, they have be having an allergic reaction to the sting; take them to the emergency room.
Rashes can come from a variety of sources, causing kids to itch and be restless. Rashes can come from the sun, in the form of heat rashes, or from plants, such as poison ivy.
The key to avoiding these sorts of rashes is to limit exposure. If your child has gotten heat rashes before, keep time outside in the sun to a minimum. If your child is playing outside, be sure to have them wash their hands and face once they return home. Staying clean and covered keeps kids from experiencing painful, itchy rashes through the season.
If you suspect that your child has a rash, either from the sun and heat or contact with certain plants, just monitor the rash for a few days. Apply cool compresses to the site, along with hydrocortisone cream. If the rash worsens or becomes painful, call your pediatrician.
Often, parents worry that any of the above conditions are symptoms of an allergic reaction. Things like bee stings or other bug bites can cause much alarm for parents, wondering if their child is having an allergic reaction.
There are a few common side effects to look for if your child is experiencing an allergic reaction:
- Trouble breathing, including wheezing or coughing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Diarrhea or stomach problems
- Swelling, especially on the eyes, lips, and hands
- Shock occurs
From bug bites, sometimes these side effects can occur from poisonous bugs, creating a reaction that is toxic in their system. If these reactions occur after eating a certain food, you will need further allergy tests to confirm a serious allergy problem.
Of course, if any of the above symptoms occur, take your child to get treatment immediately.
Treating Summer Skin Conditions
Often, many of the skin conditions your child encounters through the summer can be treated, or at least alleviated, by a visit to your local pharmacy.
Here are some of the most common treatments; stock up now to avoid issues later!
Ointments and Creams
From dry skin to poison ivy reactions, there are many types of skin issues that can flare up during the summer. To stay ahead of any problems, we recommend stocking up on the following items:
- Sunscreen, preferably SPF 30 or higher (and water-proof!)
- Bug spray
- Moisturizing lotion for dry skin
- Aloe vera gel for sunburns
- Hydrocortisone cream for itches or bee/wasp stings
- Calamine lotion for poison ivy or other rashes
- Neosporin for cuts
If your child has symptoms that are not abated with the help of these items, let’s talk. Underlying allergies or other conditions (such as eczema) could be affecting their skin.
For excessively painful or itchy skin conditions, there are a couple of medicines that we recommend you keep handy:
- Tylenol®, Ibuprofen, or Motrin® for pain relief
- Benadryl® for itchy spots and relief
- Claritin® for allergy relief
All of these items can help with the regular itches, pains, sneezes, and more that pop up through the summer months. Of course, if your child is ill or suffers from more intense skin issues, we can figure out if a prescription medication is the best course of action.
While allergy tests are not something you can grab at your local drug store, you can have your child tested to be aware of any allergies that may come up. Especially if your child has allergies through the year – such as to dust and pollen – it is important to know what else may affect their system.
Talk to your pediatrician about seeing an allergist or the allergies your child experiences. We want to help you make the best decisions about your child’s health and to help keep them feeling their best!
How Your Pediatrician Can Help
Your pediatrician is here to help you with all of your child’s health and wellness needs. From delicate baby skin to changing skin for teens, we can provide guidance on how to keep their skin healthy and looking its best.
Since we are healthcare experts in the Memphis area, we know how our particular climate and wildlife can affect a child’s skin. Blending our knowledge of the environment around us with our medical expertise, we can help identify, treat, and prevent future skin irritations and conditions kids experience.
Have questions about how to help your child’s skin? Call us today to schedule an appointment at 901-757-3535. We look forward to seeing you and, of course, hearing about your summertime fun!