It’s summer!!! Exams are over and done with, everyone’s been promoted to the next class and it’s a time of some well deserved fun and relaxation! Whether you’re spending summer at home or in an exotic location, your kids are bound to have a whale of a time! And it’s our job, as parents, to ensure that they stay ship shape throughout it all, by keeping an eye on common summer health problems.
In India, we have what can be called a tropical climate for the most part, and this includes rather extreme summers. Indian summers are characterized by intense humidity along with heat, both of which are responsible for quite a few health issues in kids! Since prevention is cure, it’s better to be informed of the most common summer health concerns in kids, so that you can take adequate precautions. After all, forewarned is forearmed!
10 Common Summer Health Problems in Children and How to prevent them?
Dehydration is the most common summer health concern in kids, mainly because they’re so busy playing, they simply forget to drink! They probably look like they’re drinking more than usual, but it’s likely to still be less than what their bodies need in hot weather. The risk increases if they regularly play outdoors, where they sweat a lot. The signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, fatigue and very little urine output. In such situations, give them a drink of water, oral rehydration solution or coconut water – these help to restore the minerals and salts lost through sweating.
Many people use the words sun tan and sun burn interchangeably, when they are in fact, very different. Skin tans on exposure to the sun, but it’s usually just melanin pigments affected. Sunburns are more serious, and appear red and may cause itchiness or blisters. It’s best to go to a doctor, after taking a shower. To prevent this, keep kids out of the sun from 11:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M., when the sun’s rays are at the highest and make them wear sun hats whenever they go out.
To prevent suntan, always use sunscreen while out in the sun.
- Apply the cream liberally over the body parts, take care to reach the parts which are difficult to apply like back of ear, nape of neck, back etc.
- Apply the sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going out.
- Do not combine insect repellent cream with the sunscreen.
- If your kid is under the sun for more than 2 hours reapply again and if he is wet, wipe off dry and reapply the cream.
3. Heat Stroke
Heat strokes are the next level of sunburns, and are far more serious. This is a critical situation that needs to be seen by a doctor right away. This isn’t a very common summer health concern for kids since it requires exposure to intense heat, but it is still possible if your kids happen to be outdoors in the blazing sun for a long time. A heat stroke or sun stroke is signalled by a high temperature, dizziness, rapid breathing and increased heart rate. It’s best to restrict outdoor sports during the summer season, or at least to early morning and late evening hours.
Every season comes with its own set of allergens, and summer is no different! Pollen counts are higher and inhalant allergies are on the rise. Allergies similar to hay fever are the most common, causing sneezing and nose irritations. Kids are mostly home from school and go outdoors to play, increasing exposure. Also vacations to lands with higher pollen concentrations could aggravate symptoms. Keep antihistamines on hand and try to minimize contact with the allergens.
5. Fungal Infections
Indian summers are notorious for their high humidity, so sweating is a given. Unfortunately, this is the perfect environment for fungal infections. Common spots are the underarms, groin, between the toes and any body folds or creases which don’t get much air time. It usually presents itself as constant itching and redness. It is important to maintain good hygiene and wear clean, dry clothes at all times. Special care must be taken after playing outdoors or swimming.
Some useful tips to follow with children are
- Always wash the hands and feet after playing.
- Change the sweat stained clothes frequently during a day.
- Don’t allow children to share clothing like shirts, shoes, etc.
- Keep the children away from stray animals.
6. Prickly Heat
Prickly heat is one the most common summer health concerns for kids in India and it occurs because of excessive sweating which ends up blocking the sweat glands. Young children are particularly prone to prickly heat because of their underdeveloped sweat glands. It usually appears as tiny raised spots over a surface of the body like the back, abdomen or arms. It is itchy and in some cases, a mild redness might persist. While not serious, it can be very uncomfortable and the use of child-safe prickly heat powder offers relief. It’s better to prevent it by keeping kids in a cool environment.
How to prevent Prickly heat in children?
- Dress the child in soft light weight cotton clothes.
- If your child has prickly heat, then wash him in luke warm water and allow some nude time for the rashes to get healed.
- Also make sure he is well hydrated.
7. Insect Bites
Many insects love hot and humid climates, making summer a busy time for them! Since kids may play outdoors more often in summer, the frequency of insect bites also increases. Leaving windows open for ventilation also invites the little bugs inside. Common insects that bite are mosquitoes, ticks, bees and wasps. While not very serious, some bites may trigger an allergic reaction, in which case immediate medical attention is required. Any unidentified bite is best brought to the notice of the doctor.
8. Eye Irritation
The sun’s rays are the strongest during summer and particularly so for the eyes. Direct exposure to intense heat can hurt little children’s eyes and cause irritation and dryness. Another factor is the excess screen time kids get during vacations, leading to more dryness in the eye. Restrict screen time at home and when outdoors, let kids wear a hat with a large brim and sunglasses with UV protection.
9. Swimmer’s Ear
Summer means swimming time, and this is the perfect time for little kids to hit the pool! But too much time in the pool means chances of water collecting in the outer ear leading to bacterial growth and an infection called swimmer’s ear. This is rather painful and usually begins with itching. It might hurt to even touch the outer ear once infected and you will need a visit to the doctor who might prescribe drops. You can avoid swimmer’s ear by keeping the ears covered with a swim cap.
Diarrhea is usually seen in summers due to food or water borne diseases. While not very serious for older children, it can prove life threatening for babies. Summer means water shortage, which means the food you eat from outside may be served on unwashed plates. There is also a tendency to drink juices from outside which may be made from unclean water. Keep a strict eye on kids’ diets during summers and try to eat from home as much as possible. While on vacation, avoid shady places and stick to hot, cooked food and bottled water.
Summer is a time meant for fun and relaxation and a time to recharge before school starts again. By being aware of common summer health concerns for kids, you can take steps to prevent them. Let your kids enjoy their vacations and you can too, without any worries for their health!