The glorious days of summer are upon us; time for road trips to the lake, the mountains and plenty of outdoor fun. Along with this comes the inevitable risk of sunburn, bug bites, tummy troubles and bumps ‘n bruises. Some common-sense basics for prevention along with a handful of natural products for care and you’re set to keep your family enjoying the summer.
Sunburn – Prevention is best! When being outdoors during the day, wear lightweight, protective clothing and hats as much as possible. Try to avoid direct sunlight when the sun is most intense. Use a sunscreen with a physical barrier, such as zinc oxide. (Studies are showing some of the chemical sunscreens to be carcinogenic or endocrine disruptors.) And stay hydrated! You don’t have to just drink your water, you can eat it too! Fruits like watermelon contain lots of water and will help maintain hydration. Staying properly hydrated will significantly reduce the risk of sunstroke. At the end of the day, aloe vera gel, calendula gel and lavender essential oil will soothe the skin.
Nausea, dizziness, headaches, confusion, rapid breathing and quick heart rate are all signs of sunstroke. If you notice any of these symptoms in your family members after being in the sun, seek medical attention. Rehydration and removal from the heat are critical. If in a remote area, make sure you have oral rehydration salts on hand.
Bug bites – Prevention: cover up exposed skin in the evening and in areas known for mosquitoes. Staphysagria homeopathically has been shown to deter mosquito bites. An essential oil blend spray is safer than the typical mosquito repellents (and smells much better too!). I like geranium, lavender and citrus. You can make your own spray by adding essential oils to a carrier oil, like jojoba oil, or you can buy one ready to go from your local health food store. To calm any bites you do get, apply a couple of drops of lavender essential oil directly to the area. I also like to have Boiron’s Dapis gel on hand to cover larger areas. Homeopathic apis is useful for bites that are swollen and red, like bee stings. If you or your child has a known allergy to bug bites or bee stings, take extra precautions when outdoors and always carry an EpiPen.
Tummy troubles – Changes in food, water, bathroom facilities and schedules can cause constipation and/or diarrhea. Strengthen your kids’ digestive systems with a good probiotic. My favorites are Seroyal’s HMF Child and BioGaia ProTectis. Start them (and yourselves) on a probiotic prior to traveling. Bring a shelf stable probiotic, like Saccharomyces boulardii, with you just in case. In most cases, even probiotics requiring refrigeration can be brought with you while traveling. Refrigeration extends the life of the probiotic. However, if you are only traveling for a week or two, not refrigerating your probiotics isn’t likely to make a difference unless they are close to expiry or stored at temperatures above 30˚C.
Bumps ’n Bruises – Kids are busy exploring and trying out new feats of agility and acrobatics. Inevitably, a few bumps and bruises come their way. Arnica gel or Traumeel is excellent for healing bruises faster and reducing the swelling and pain. For minor cuts and scrapes, properly clean the abrasion and apply an ointment to heal and protect. I personally like Unda’s Cicatrisan cream and Curaphyte’s Dermatologic care to improve wound healing. This will also help to prevent infection. For more serious injuries, seek medical attention immediately.
Enjoy your summer travels!
Dr. Stephanie Andrews, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with an active family practice in Calgary. She provides wholistic and natural treatments, through individualized care, that focus on prevention.
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2021 Calgary’s Child