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Bumps, bites, bruises & burns
How to handle your child’s minor injuries this summer

Should I bring my child to the ER?

Head to the emergency room if your child experiences any of these symptoms:

  • wheezing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • confusion or unusual sleepiness
  • heavy bleeding that won’t stop
  • a stiff neck with or without a fever
  • a fast heartbeat that won’t slow down

Safe fun in the sun

Protect your children from painful sunburn and long-term skin and eye damage with these steps:

  • Slather on the sunscreen. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Look for one that protects against ultraviolet (UV) A and UVB rays. Use daily, even on cloudy days, and rub it into the skin at least 30 minutes before heading outdoors. Reapply the sunscreen every few hours and after swimming.
  • Give them shades. Have your children wear sunglasses that block 99 percent to 100 percent of all UV light. Wraparounds protect the best.
  • Avoid peak hours. Schedule outdoor activities to avoid the strongest rays of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Your child should be in the shade whenever possible.
  • Cover up exposed skin. Outfit your kids with brimmed hats and lightweight, long-sleeved cover-ups. Look for play clothes and beachwear made from special UV-blocking fabrics.

As the temperature rises and days get longer, you’re probably looking forward to a carefree summer. But a variety of childhood injuries can come along with outdoor playtime. Here’s how to manage these common wounds of summer:

  • Minor bumps and bruises. You can care for most bumps and bruises at home. Place a cold compress or an ice pack on the injury to limit swelling and relieve pain and hold your child to stop his or her crying. Give your child acetaminophen for the pain, if needed. Follow the package directions according to your child’s weight and never exceed the maximum daily dosage. Watch him or her for the next 24 hours and call your healthcare provider right away if your child has unusual symptoms such as vomiting, unfocused eyes or abnormal walking.
  • Cuts and scrapes. Clean out the wound and the skin around the injury with soap and cool water on a soft cloth. Remove debris with tweezers cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. Cover the wound with a clean cloth or gauze and press gently to stop any bleeding. Lightly dab on an antibiotic ointment and cover the wound with a bandage to ward off infection and keep it clean. Call your doctor if the cut is deep and the edges are jagged.
  • Bites and stings. Most reactions to insect bites and stings are mild with only itching, stinging or swelling that goes away in a day. If your child is stung, move to a safe area to avoid more insect attacks. Scrape or brush off the stinger with a straight-edged object like a credit card. Don’t try to pull or tweeze the stinger out, because that will release the venom. Gently wash the area with soap and water. Use an ice pack to reduce your child’s pain or swelling. Dab the bite with hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to calm the itch. Give your child an antihistamine formulated for his or her weight. Seek emergency care immediately if your child’s face swells or if he or she is wheezing, has difficulty breathing, looks pale or has stomach pain.
  • Blisters. New summer sandals can leave a little one’s feet with painful blisters. If this happens to your child, cover the blister with a bandage or gauze to relieve friction. Don’t drain it unless it’s painful. In that case, wash the area with soap and warm water and swab the blister with iodine or rubbing alcohol. Relieve the pressure by puncturing the blister with a sterilized needle in several spots near its edge. After draining the blister, leave the overlying skin in place. Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover it with a clean bandage. Call your doctor if you see signs of infection like pus or redness or if your child complains of increasing pain.
  • Sunburn. To reduce pain and swelling, give your child a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen. Apply a towel soaked in cool water or give your child a cool bath to calm the burn. Apply a moisturizing lotion or cream. Have your child drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Don’t break blisters unless they’re painful. Cover them with gauze, and if they break on their own, apply antibacterial ointment.


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