If my child is playing sports and exploring the woods and hiking with us, what do I need to know?

First, you need to know that sunscreen is not optional.  Sunlight damages skin, regardless of a person’s age, skin color, or health condition.  The damage is cumulative, meaning that it doesn’t “heal itself” in the wintertime.  For example, the damage done to your skin as an adult at the beach is added to the damage done when you had your baby pool or did your lifeguard job decades ago.  So, please buy and use sunscreen.   

The experts at Mayo Clinic have published an article about the 10 myths of sunscreens.  https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/myth-or-fact-coconut-is-an-effective-sunscreen

We hear a lot about ticks and Lyme disease but it’s important to know a little bit more.  You may encounter various types of ticks that can carry and transmit various diseases, so you need to know more about them.  Fear of ticks should not make you fearful of the outdoors.  You can use tick repellants to keep them off you and your children and you wear clothes that protect you.  Most importantly you can manage “the tick problem” by inspecting the skin of your children and yourself when you come back indoors.  If you see a tick on your skin, you can remove it promptly with tweezers to minimize the risk of disease.  If you don’t see it right away and it takes up residence under the skin, you can have it removed by a medical professional.     

OSHA issued a useful guide to help you identify the types of ticks and learn more about them. https://www.osha.gov/tickborne-disease

If your outdoor activities take you off the sports fields or trails and into the high grass or weeds along the creek or woods, you might encounter a poisonous plant.  You might even find one in your flower garden or shrub bed.  Although referred to as “poisonous”, contact with the most common ones may cause allergic reactions such as itching or burning skin that is treatable with over-the-counter medicines.  More severe reactions may require treatment by a medical professional and some people have no allergic reactions at all.

The best prevention is avoidance, so you need to know which plants to avoid.  This link to WebMD provides pictures of the most common poisonous plants and additional information about them.


You can also find Apps for your cell phone to identify plants (“Picture This”) and insects (“Picture Insect: Spiders and Bugs”).  Apps like these allow you to identify things while you’re outdoors and ease your mind about enjoying the time with your child.

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