Healthy Fun in the Summer Sun

By: Michael Kabel

Summertime is here again, and that means it’s time to take all the best precautions against the Sun, insects, and routine seasonal dilemmas like swimmer’s ear. Parents can save their children a lot of discomfort – and themselves a lot of worry – just by following these simple plans:

Sunscreen – Experts including the non-profit Environmental Working Group recommend using sunscreens that include minerals like zinc oxide, which protects against both kinds of ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB.)

Don’t be fooled by higher-SPF products. The FDA has called products with a SPF of 50 or higher “inherently misleading” because they encourage sunbathers to apply too little and remain in the sun too long.  And while Vitamin A may be good for your body, spreading it on your skin can cause irritation and even provide a cancer risk. 

Look for creams instead of powders and sprays, and remember to use protection even on cloudy and partly cloudy days.

Insect Repellents – Insect bites and itchy skin are summertime rites of passage, but risks of Lyme disease and other debilitating illnesses are nothing to shrug off. If you’re leery of using products that include artificial chemicals, try these alternatives:

  •  Soy-based protection, such as Bite Blocker 
  •  Lemongrass and Lemon Eucalyptus products are effective, but kids might not like the smell. Experts recommend they’re not for use on children under three, too. Buzz Away Extreme and Repel rank among the highest-recommend.

As a last resort, repellents that include the chemical DEET shouldn’t be ruled out, especially in areas with heavy mosquito infestation or where insects are known to carry disease.

Swimmer’s Ear – Though annoying, this perennial summertime risk isn’t potentially dangerous if treated right away. Doctors can clean or suction the water from the ear canal. For home remedies, try: 

  •  Using a bulb syringe and saline solution to rinse the ear clean. The solution should be body temperature, not warm or cold.
  •  Heating pads set to low can help, but they’re not for use on children or when lying in bed.
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