Top Health Tips for Your Summer Beach Vacation From a Pediatrician
Sunscreen often comes to mind, however, there are some other precautions to consider to keep your child healthy.
By Emma Pignato
As your family travels to the beach this summer, remember to include health and safety measures to ensure you and your children have the best vacation possible.
Sunscreen often comes to mind, however, there are some other precautions to consider. Cook Children’s Medical Advisor for Digital Health, Dr. Diane Arnaout, M.D., shared helpful tips when preparing for the beach. She sees a variety of beach-related medical conditions each year and offers tips to avoid trouble.
Dr. Arnaout reminds us it only takes 15-20 minutes for a sunburn to form. Hence, it’s essential to apply and reapply sunscreen routinely and ensure all body parts are covered.
“Don’t forget the top of the ears -- that’s where I tend to see the most sun damage, especially in boys because they don’t have that hair covering their ears. I see lots of freckling and burned skin here,” Dr. Arnaout said.
Dr. Arnaout also talked about using shade and clothing, such as longer swim shorts and shirts to avoid harmful, cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) rays. By doing so, we can protect our kids from day one.
“Try to keep kids, especially under 6 months, completely covered with an umbrella or some kind of shade because they can burn much more easily,” she said. Parents should know, according to Dr. Arnaout, that you CAN put sunscreen on your child at that age, but doctors prefer an umbrella, with exceptions for their feet.
Lifejackets & Riptides
When taking your child to the lake, lifejackets are commonly used for children. However, Dr. Arnaout observed that many parents do not think to bring a lifejacket to the beach.
“When we go to the beach, people will assume the kids will be playing in the sand without any danger, but kids can wander off and get swept into the water very easily,” Dr. Arnaout said.
Although riptides are not ordinary on the Texas coast, it is important to keep them in mind. Dr. Arnaout shares some tips in the event your child runs into riptides.
“Especially older kids, if it’s dragging them, do not fight it, but let it take you in the direction it needs to,” Dr. Arnaout said. “You can tire out easily trying to fight a riptide.”
Skincare & Jellyfish Stings
We’ve all seen it in the movies, TV shows or heard stories of someone peeing on a jellyfish sting, so surely that’s the way to cure one, right? Contrary to popular belief, that is false, according to Dr. Arnaout.
Dr. Arnaout shares that peeing on a jellyfish sting is only a myth. It might make the sting worse. The most effective treatment is vinegar. However, there are other things you can do if your child is stung by a jellyfish.
“The tentacles of jellyfish have these little stingers that can get stuck in your skin. One of the best and immediate things you can do is go back in the water and a lot of them will wash off. You don’t want to rub it off, but you can take a credit card and gently scrape the stingers off, ” she added.
Last but not least, it’s time to talk about skincare and gentle clothing at the beach. Be aware of mesh lining and life vest straps, which they can harm the skin. Dr. Arnaout says she has seen many instances where the mesh lining or buckles from lifejackets irritate private parts, especially for boys. It is important to be aware of the materials inside your children’s swimsuits.
“I think it’s not well known that the mesh lining of these suits or even the straps that go down in that area can be super abrasive and can cause a lot of chafing and a lot of pain,” Dr. Arnaout explained.
About Cook Children's
Cook Children’s Health Care System embraces an inspiring Promise – to improve the health of every child through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, we’re proud of our long and rich tradition of serving our community. Our not-for-profit organization is comprised of nine companies, including our Medical Center, Physician Network, Home Health company, Northeast Hospital, Pediatric Surgery Center, Health Plan, Health Services Inc., Child Study Center and Health Foundation. With more than 60 primary, specialty and urgent care locations throughout Texas, families can access our top-ranked specialty programs and network of services to meet the unique needs of their child. For 100 years, we’ve worked to improve the health of children from across our primary service area of Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise counties. We combine the art of caring with leading technology and extraordinary collaboration to provide exceptional care for every child. This has earned Cook Children’s a strong, far-reaching reputation with patients traveling from around the country and the globe to receive life-saving pediatric care. For more information, visit cookchildrens.org.