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August 2009 Health Tips from Riley Hospital for Children

Are products that combine sunscreen and insect repellent the answer to a mother’s prayer? No, says Riley Hospital for Children pediatric dermatologist Patricia Treadwell, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine professor of pediatrics. While the chemical DEET is an effective way to keep bugs away from your children, DEET may make the sun protection factor (SPF) less effective. And combination products may overexpose your child to DEET since the sunscreen needs to be reapplied often.

The grass may be high and your ten year old may be bored but don’t ask him or her to go out and mow the lawn. “Crippling injuries to children occur each year due to carelessness when operating lawn mowing equipment,” says L. R. “Tres” Scherer III, MD, medical director, Riley Hospital for Children Pediatric Trauma Center and professor of surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Adults and children need to exercise caution and common sense when operating any type of machinery, especially lawn mowers. “We can greatly reduce the number of injured children if adults would keep children off the lap of riding lawn mower operators and out of the yard when riding or push lawn mowers are in use. Good advice is to expect the unexpected and keep children under the age of 12 away from lawn mowers and the mowing area,” adds Dr. Scherer.

Is your child an insect magnet? When you know children will be exposed to insects, Riley Hospital pediatric dermatologist Patricia Treadwell, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine professor of pediatrics, encourages dressing them in long pants, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, socks and closed-toe shoes. A broad-brimmed hat helps keep insects away from the face and mosquito netting over the baby’s stroller is effective. When dressing like a 19th century explorer doesn’t work with your child’s lifestyle, she counsels avoiding dressing in bright or flowery patterned clothing, as they attract bugs. She also advises against scented soaps, perfumes, body or hair sprays since they also may attract insects.

Kids don’t have to sit out of the pool after eating. “If kids feel comfortable in the pool after eating, it’s fine for them to get back in the water,” says Riley Hospital for Children pediatrician Michael McKenna, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine assistant professor of clinical pediatrics, who adds that light rather than heavy food is best when at the beach or pool. “Parents should keep a close watch on children in the water and make sure that those under six remain in the shallow end or out of big waves.”