Common Summer Skin Problems for Kids

The warm summer temps can do a number on your child’s sensitive skin. We talked with Dr. Anatoli Freiman, Dermatologist, Medical Director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre, and Chair, Canadian Dermatology Association Sun Protection Program, to get the scoop on some of the most common, serious, and crazy skin-related problems kids can face, along with how to help prevent and treat them.

Common Summer Skin Problems for Kids

Photography courtesy martinak15 via Flickr.

Most Common

Sunburns. Hands down, Dr. Freiman says the most common skin-related issue he sees with kids during the summer is sunburns.

To prevent this, keep kids out of the sun during peak hours, wear hats, light clothing, and apply sunscreen generously, rubbing it in thoroughly to cover all exposed areas. Parents often miss hidden places like behind the ears, on the back of the neck and hands, and the lip area. This can be especially difficult with a squirmy preschooler, but it’s important to prevent the painful burns.

Sunscreen should ideally be applied before sun exposure. But the reason sunburns are so common is that parents think if they forget to do so before they leave the house, it’s too late. “In the same way you drive a car and forget to put on the seatbelt,” Dr. Freiman analogizes, “it doesn’t mean you won’t put it on once you realize. You’ll put it on right away. It’s the same thing with sunscreen.”

Re-application is also often forgotten. It should be every two hours while exposed to the sun, or more frequently if the child is sweating a lot, and especially if he’s swimming.

If your child gets a sunburn, Dr. Freiman says to apply natural moisturizers, and stay out of the sun.

Bug Bites.
Mosquitoes love to prey on our little ones! Don’t forget to put insect repellant on the kids if you know you’ll be where the bugs are rampant. Check the label but most are safe for kids over the age of six months. If the child is bitten, there are topical ointments that can be used, or Dr. Freiman suggests seeking the advice of a dermatologist as there are prescription products that can help settle the after bite reaction more quickly.

Heat Rash.
A Catch 22 in the summer is the nasty heat rash, which can affect kids, too. They’re caused by sweating, swimming, and applying and reapplying sunscreen, especially the greasy kind.

If your child is prone to breakouts, look for sunscreens that are non-comedogenic, which means they won’t block pores, they’re non-irritating and hypoallergenic.

Kids typically prone to acne can also experience flare-ups during the summer months, especially if they use a lot of sunscreen on the face. But even just sweating a lot can cause a breakout. Dr. Freiman reinforces the need for proper hygiene, washing, and, if your teenager uses makeup, to only apply a light amount of a soluble kind.

It Can Happen

Dr. Freiman says older kids can sometimes get infections, like fungus on the feet, from excessive sweating. Proper hygiene, once again, is encouraged to prevent this.

More rare afflictions like sun allergies (rashes) and sun-induced hives can be tough to detect since they mimic other diseases. If your kids are getting recurrent rashes, have them evaluated by a dermatologist to see if it’s one of these more serious issues.

“Sometimes people think they have an allergy to sunscreen, but it could be a sun allergy,” Dr. Freiman explains. “There’s an important distinction.”

Severe sunburns are also more common than they should be, since they’re completely preventable. Dr. Freiman sees it most often with kids who are taking certain medications that can make them more sun sensitive, like some prescriptions for acne.

It’s worth noting one more very severe skin issue: melanoma, or skin cancer. The Canadian Dermatology Association estimates that we’ll see 6,500 new cases this year. It’s the most diagnosed form of cancer worldwide. And it’s fully preventable by following these, and other tips we’ve provided.

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