summer need-to-know from the doc: allergies, sunscreen & poison oak

Summer brings sunshine and fun, but for parents and children it also can mean injuries, bug bites, allergies, rashes and dehydration.

My first summers with a newborn and then 1-year old had my brain going in circles and my fingers dialing the on-call nurse often, whether it was worry about dehydration or Audrey’s first bee sting (she was 1). With allergies running thick in my family, recently I’ve  been mommy-stressing about what I can do about Audrey’s…or if it is even allergies she has.

In effort to hopefully save you from the aisles of sunscreen choices, lines at urgency care and the countless number of things the internet will tell you, I had my wonderful family nurse practitioner and mother-of-two, Wendy Zyziewski, answer some burning summer safety and health questions from me and a handful of other mommies.

Check in later for information on water safety, dehydration, bug bites and more. See here for her advice for being medically prepared before traveling

Allergies

How do I know if my child has seasonal allergies? WZ: Common symptoms include stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage, sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, sore throat or a cough that usually is worse at night or first thing in the morning. Also, you will commonly see dark circles under the child’s eyes called “allergic shiners.”

How do I know if my child has seasonal allergies? WZ: Common symptoms include stuffy or runny nose with clear drainage, sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, sore throat or a cough that usually is worse at night or first thing in the morning. Also, you will commonly see dark circles under the child’s eyes called “allergic shiners.”

What would you suggest for children under two-years-old with allergies?  WZ: Most importantly is to avoid the allergen whether it is a food or in the environment. Try normal saline nose drops and bulb suction. Antihistamines are not recommended under the age of two, except you can use Benadryl at times, but the parent will need to contact their PCP for dosage calculation based on weight of the child.

For children two and up, would you recommend over-the-counter medication? WZ: Stay away from combination allergy medications, like cold and cough, because children can get too much of one or the other drug. You can use some antihistamines like Claritin in children over two, but always check with your PCP first.

When/do you recommend testing? WZ: Treat conservatively at first. If none of these treatments help, then consider either a referral to an allergy and asthma specialist for patch testing or blood testing.

Is there anything safe to take for allergies for a pregnant or breastfeeding mom? WZ: Pregnant moms can take allergy medications, but most of these medications are category B which means there is not any good data about their safety in the first trimester. It is best if you can stay away from these medications during the first trimester of pregnancy. Always check with your Ob/Gyn before taking these medications. The best antihistamines for breastfeeding moms are Claritin (loratadine) and Allegra (fexofenadine).

Poison Oak

What are some ways to treat and prevent poison oak for infants and up? WZ: Soak in cool water and let air dry. One-percent hydrocortisone cream and/or calamine lotion may help with the itching. Also, you can give an antihistamine like Benadryl, but contact your PCP for the correct dosage for your child. Keep children’s fingernails trimmed to discourage scratching. If the child has the rash on their face or groin, or it is spreading all over the body, they should be seen by their PCP for treatment. If there is sign of infection (fever, redness, and swelling beyond the poison oak lesions) the child should be seen.  Also, teach your child what these plants look like – bright green shiny leaves that grow three to a stem and turn red in the fall. “Leaves of three, let them be.”

When someone does come into contact with it, how do you get the oils out of the clothing? WZ: Really stripping and washing all your clothes and shoes in warm water with detergent should work. Also, be sure to shower well and scrub under your nails – often the oils will hide there and is a common way to spread the rash. Wash the area of skin that is directly contacted for about ten minutes to get the oils off.

Sun Protection

Do you have any recommendations on sunscreens for infants up to adults? Specifically, do you have a recommendation for sensitive-skin children, particularly a sunscreen that isn’t filled with tons of harsh chemicals?  WZ: WaterBabies and BullFrog brands are recommended for  more sensitive children over six-months of age. Also, I would recommend for small infants using the stick application so it doesn’t run in their eyes or mouth. Biggest recommendation for infants would be to cover them up and use a sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 to exposed areas (face and back of hands). All other kiddos should wear a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher at all times.

What are ways to treat a sun burn for infants and up? WZ: Put a cold, wet towel on the burn for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. Cool baths can help too. Apply products with oatmeal, as well as moisturizing creams with aloe vera. Avoid creams or lotions that contain petroleum or topical anesthetics such as benzocaine or lidocaine. Use calamine lotion to prevent itch and peeling. Ease the pain with Tylenol and leave blisters alone.

for more information, check out the www.aap.org and kidshealth.org websites for reliable and trusted information

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2 thoughts on “summer need-to-know from the doc: allergies, sunscreen & poison oak

  1. Pingback: part II from the doc: bites, stings, water safety and heat | myabcsoup

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