Ahhhh sweet summer, it’s the time of long days, warm sunshine, beach mornings and the great outdoors. Also, the time for sunburn, bees, heat rash and crikey, the mozzies are HUGE.
“Do NOT go out there without sunscreen kids,” is what my neighbours will hear me yell every day this summer. “And your hat!”
Yes, summer comes with the stress of ensuring kids are safe. You also need to be prepared to patch them up and hug them (even when they are covered in dirt) when the sting of the season hits. And you know it will hit.
To keep you calm when the worst happens, we’ve compiled the latest summer first aid advice for kids. Pop this guide into your saved stories and you’ll always have it when you need it. You’ll be that cool calm and level-headed mum in an emergency.
We should all do our best to keep the kids protected from our harsh Australian sun. Avoid playing outdoors during the hottest part of the day (10am to 2pm) and keep skin covered with hats, long sleeves and shade.
A sunscreen formulated for kids is a must-have – and don’t forget to reapply! We recommend Cetaphil Sun Kids Liposomal Lotion 50+ it’s kid-friendly and has a very high SPF so you won’t be caught short. Read on below for our summertime essentials shopping list. You should apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going out into the sun. It’s not instant, it takes time to soak in.
If, for whatever reason, the kids don’t listen, forget a patch on their back or simply refuse to reapply, you will need to act fast to minimise the discomfort of sunburn.
What to do:
- Cool the skin down. Wrap a damp, cool towel around the sunburnt skin or alternatively, a cool bath or shower can bring some immediate relief to the burning sensation. Skip the soap and pat dry the skin. Wear loose clothing so as to not irritate the skin.
- Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Sunburned skin is damaged dry skin. Apply an aloe vera moisturising gel to soothe the burn and feed the skin. The aloe vera will help immensely to soothe damaged skin and it absorbs it like magic. Keep reapplying several times a day.
- Water and rest. Give your child LOTS of water to drink. Drinking water will also help the overall drying effects on the whole body. If your little one is feeling all the effects of their sunburn, encourage them to rest – an afternoon on the couch and a movie is in order.
For severe sunburn – that is blistering, terrible pain, fever and headache – seek medical help immediately.
Itchy Mosquito Bites
No matter whether you’re outdoors playing, inside or even sleeping – these suckers seem to target children every time, do they not?
Mosquitoes are rife, all summer long. We consequently battle those pesky, itchy bites for months. In the daytime, you can use a bug spray on the skin to help ward them off. If they are biting overnight, consider spraying your child’s bedroom with an odourless insect or fly spray, half an hour before bedtime.
If your child is sporting raised, red mozzie bite lumps, here’s what to do:
What to do:
- Wash the area of the bite with warm, soapy water.
- To relieve itching and irritation, dab the bites with Calamine lotion and apply an ice pack for a short time. Antihistamines can also take some of the itch out. Just make sure you double-check the dose for your child’s weight.
- Children can’t help but itch which often leads to infected bites. Often loosely covering a large bite with a Bandaid can help protect the skin from fingernails and speed up the healing. So, in short – apply a Bandaid if you need.
Bee and Wasp Stings
Running around on the grass in bare feet in warm sunshine is one of the best things about summer. But it’s all sprinkler-filled fun and games until a bee or wasp strikes. And boy, do those stings hurt.
Avoid kids playing near plants, trees and clover where bees are active and try to remember to slip on shoes before running outdoors. Thankfully, most of the time, stings are minor and are easily treated at home, just follow these first aid steps:
What to do:
- Locate and remove the stinger. DO NOT use tweezers to remove it as this can squeeze more venom into the area. Instead, scrape or flick it away with your fingernail.
- Wash the area with soap and water. A cold compress can bring some comfort to the pain and itchiness, in addition to reducing the swelling.
- Bee and wasp stings really do hurt! You can treat painful symptoms of the bite with a dose of Nurofen or an antihistamine, suitable for your child’s age and weight.
If your child has an allergic reaction call for emergency help. If your child has difficulty breathing, dizziness, faints, breaks out in hives or excessive swelling of the face, lips or tongue, call 000 immediately.
Prickly Heat (Heat Rash)
Notice your baby is fine one day and has itchy, red patches in folds of skin the next? Heat rash is common in babies and young children.
Heat rash pops up seemingly out of nowhere. It happens because your little one’s sweat glands aren’t fully developed and they get blocked it gets too hot. Sweat gets trapped under the skin and quickly forms a red patch along with small angry-looking lumps or blisters.
What to do:
- Make sure your child stays cool and avoids getting sweaty. Use the air conditioner, fans and avoid overdressing – stick to light, cotton layers.
- Give a lukewarm bath to help soothe the rash, but avoid using soap as that can irritate the skin further. Pat dry and apply chamomile lotion to the areas with the rash. With care, it should clear up in a couple of days.
If it doesn’t clear up, your baby is super uncomfortable or if the blisters become infected and filled with yellow puss like fluid, see your doctor.
We need to be super careful with our kids in summer that they don’t overheat.
Active kids love nothing more than burning off their energy running around for hours on end playing outside. But in the heat of summer, the risk of heat exhaustion and dehydration is very real. Heat exhaustion can also occur when kids are in hot cars. Never ever leave your child in a hot car.
What to do:
- Limit intense outdoor activities (running, trampoline etc) in high heat and humid weather.
- Give kids plenty of fluids before they head outside to play and interrupt them often to give more drinks!
- Heat exhaustion symptoms are serious and varied, ranging from feeling ‘flat’, to increased heart rate, weakness, dizziness, feeling light-headed, extreme sweating, headache, vomiting, raised body temperature, dehydration and muscle cramps. If your child is suffering any of these, move them to cooler conditions (under shade, inside or an air-conditioned car), undress them and sponge them down with cool water while giving them a drink of water. Call your doctor for advice, a visit to the hospital might be in order.
Your List of Summertime Essentials!
It’s super handy to have a summer first aid kit for kids on hand (or top up your existing first aid kit with these summer essentials). It’s ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry when it comes to kids and first aid!
- Insect Repellent Spray – have an insect repellent spray handy to help ward off mosquitos and other insects. Do check that it’s a brand suitable for children before applying.
- Sunscreen – we love Cetaphil Sun Kids Liposomal Lotion 50+ ($17.50). Have one on the go and a back up for the first aid kit. It’s perfect for kids aged one and over, plus it’s water-resistant for four hours. Housed in a handy pump pack, the formula is suitable for sensitive skin, spreads evenly over shoulders, knees and elbows, quickly absorbing into the skin with no icky stickiness. You needn’t go far to find it, you can buy it direct from Cetaphil or throw it in your trolley at Woolies!
- Aloe Vera Gel – brilliant for after-sun care, soothing sunburn and re-hydrating skin.
- Bandaids – A must-have for every first aid kit. Make sure you have a variety of sizes and add some ‘fun’ designed ones for the kids!
- Instant ice packs – the kind which don’t require being in the fridge and freezer. They’re available in an instant – there’s no rifling past spilled bags of frozen peas or the like when trying to find them in the freezer.
- Calamine lotion – It’s great for relieving itchiness of bites and stings, keep a bottle in the fridge for instant soothing!
- Children’s Antihistamine – have a bottle of Zyrtec tucked away in your first aid kit for allergies. From hives to bee stings and all the hay-fever symptoms in between, an antihistamine can bring relief to much of it.