School’s out and summer time is kid time. Summer days are around the corner, and that means long, hot days spent under the sun and fun activities outside. All that outdoor time comes with pesky bumps, rashes, and bites on your children’s skin.
Here are the top skin conditions that you should be aware of this summer before you and the kids head outside. Remember that awareness, prevention, and protection are the keys to a healthy summer for your kids’ skin and your peace of mind!
Sun: It goes without saying that sunburns are a huge concern in the summer, especially for children. The key to protecting yourself and your children is to use a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, an SPF of at least 45, and water resistant, to apply 15-20 minutes before heading out, and to reapply your sunscreen regularly. (Children under 6 months of age should stay indoors and protected from the sun.) Dr. Linda Honet recommends that the key to not burning is the reapplication of sunscreen every 1 ½ hours to every 2 hours while outside. Seek shade as much as possible. Avoid peak sun hours of 10AM and 4PM. Wear shirts, hats and sunglasses if possible. If you find yourselves in the water or sweating a lot, make sure you reapply more often. And remember shady days still allow most of the sun’s rays to penetrate (up to 80-90%) and burn the skin. Some of Dr. Honet’s favorite drug store brand sunscreens include Neutrogena Pure & Free® Baby Faces Ultra Gentle Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45+ Aveeno® Baby Natural Protection Lotion Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF50, CeraVe Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 45, Mustela High Protection Sun LotionMustela High Protection Sun LotionMustela High Protection Sun LotionMustela High Protection Sun LotionMustela Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion Spf 50+ and Banana Boat® Kids Tear-Free Sting-Free Lotion Sunscreens SPF 50. Rash guards and clothing that have UPF sun protection imbedded in them are wonderful ways to protect from sunburn as well.
Insects: Kids love spending their days and nights outside, but are especially susceptible to dreaded bug bites. These unwanted trademarks of summer are a nuisance and can be numerous. Bites and stings are usually temporary and self-limited, but can be miserable for the child due to the itching and stinging. Bites can also get irritated from scratching and secondarily infected. Prevention is key especially in light of the worrisome Zika virus from mosquitoes. The CDC recommends using insect repellents on children over the age of 2 months. Effective repellants include those containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535; other recommended repellants such as oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol should be used only on children older than 3 years of age. Make sure you spray yourselves and your children before heading out for the day. Dress children in long sleeves and long pants for added protection.
Viruses: Molluscum contagiosum has been a huge skin ailment in our office lately. Kids and teens alike have been coming in with pink, shiny, dome-shaped bumps. Although molluscum is not a dangerous condition, it is caused by a virus and can be quite contagious. Molluscum is usually contracted from skin to skin contact and contact with infected wet surfaces, including pools, Jacuzzis, water parks, towels, bedding, and toys. Molluscum can be self-limited, but because they can spread and quickly become numerous, often people seek the attention of a dermatologist, where treatment in the office can be quick and effective. Warts or verrucae can become more prevalent during summer as well. It is caused by a different virus, the Human Papilloma Virus, which thrives on wet, warm surfaces and from direct contact. Children and adults alike will contract the virus from walking barefoot on hotel floors, public shower stalls, locker rooms, and pool side. Treatment can include over-the-counter and prescription topical medications, as well as in-office treatments.
Yeast and Fungus: Tinea Versicolor shows up as scaly, flaky, discolored patches, ranging from white, pink, tan or brown. The rash shows up often because of the surrounding skin becoming more tan from the summer sun. Tinea versicolor is a superficial yeast infection in skin that thrives in the warmer months of summer. The yeast forms may live normally in the skin, but in warmer weather it becomes overactive and overgrown, especially in sweaty body parts on the trunk. Tinea Versicolor is not contagious, but it does need to be treated. Treating Tinea Versicolor with an antifungal topical medication is effective but may recur with the warmer seasons. Other fungal infections like Tinea Cruris (jock itch), Tinea Corporis (body), Tinea Pedis (feet), and Onychomycosis (nails) can flare in warmer temperatures as well. Most of these superficial skin infections need prescription medication for adequate and effective clinical clearance.
Plants: Spending time outdoors during the summer often means increased exposure to different plants and flowers that are often blooming and in their active growing season. With that comes rashes from Poison Ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. The allergic reaction that is caused by these “poison” plants and trees is a severely itchy, painful rash, sometimes blistering. The allergic reaction to these plants is caused by the oil that each of these plants produces. The rash often takes time to develop, sometimes over a few weeks, and may not appear on your child’s skin for a few days or a week from the time of contact or exposure. Over-the-counter treatments like hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion can provide some symptom relief. However, severe blistering, oozing, or swelling are signs that the contact allergic dermatitis needs the attention and treatment from a dermatologist. If you think that your child has been exposed to poison ivy or the like, immediate cleansing of the area with cool water and soap may prevent it or may at least decrease the extent and severity of the rash.
Prevention is the key to keeping your and your children’s skin happy, healthy, and clear this summer. But if despite your best efforts, a bout of poison ivy, an attack of fungus, or a bite from an insect gets a hold of your child’s skin or your skin, we at Honet Dermatology are here to help.