Keep Summer Fun!

It is that time of the year again - summer and swimming, playing outside and having fun weather! Let's think about some ways to keep those kids healthy and happy this summer!

If your kids spend any reasonable amount of time in the water, you should think about preventing the worst earache you can get - swimmers ear, or otitis externa. This is a bacterial infection (not a "fungus" as some believe) that is caused by excessive moisture in the ear canal over a period of several days. It hurts like crazy - the child cannot stand you to touch the ear, and will have probably have trouble sleeping.

The best cure is prevention. Simply go to the store and get a hair-tint or similar resealable plastic bottle with a snout to squirt in the ear easily. Then fill it half full of plain white vinegar, and half full of rubbing alcohol. (Label it plainly with fingernail polish - magic marker will wash off with the alcohol.) Each time your child is through swimming for the day, or at least for a few hours - flush the ear canals out with a good squirt of this mixture. The ears will stay dry and will have the normal, slightly acidic pH that inhibits germs from multiplying on normal skin.

Don't waste your money on commercial swimmers ear preparations - make it yourself, and be sure to use it for everybody in the family. And if your child's ear starts getting really itchy after a lot of swimming - that is probably early swimmers ear. Stay out of the pool for a day, and flush the ear at least four times a day with the vinegar and alcohol. You will nip it right in the bud. Back in the water when the ear stops itching!

Sunscreen is an absolute must for everybody with all but very dark skin. Ultraviolet light is very damaging to young skin for the long term and leads to premature aging and a high risk of skin cancer years down the road. We really want to avoid painful sunburn, too. In addition to the discomfort, that really raises the long term risk of skin cancer. Use a sunscreen rated at least SPF 30 whenever your kids are out in the sun, and reapply at least as often as recommended - my advice is more often. Take those claims about it not washing off with a grain of salt!

Sunglasses are something we don't think about for young children, but they are just as important as sunscreen for the long term. The most common form of catarracts is caused by years of unprotected exposure to the sun's rays. Do your children a favor for their old age: get them good quality sunglasses that are rated for ultraviolet protection.

Carsickness in your child can really ruin a trip. If your child gets carsick, remember you can get Dramamine® without a prescription in any drugstore along the way. The dosage is on the bottle.

Bee and wasp stings:

Good First Aid medicines to pack on the trip:

Miscellaneous tips:

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