Common kid summer skin issues and how to treat them

RashWarmer weather isn't always all smiles and glowing skin for kids. Several skin maladies can leave kids itching, burning and blistering all summer long. Here are three common skin irritations and what to do about them.

Poison ivy, oak and sumac

A common summer rash with blisters can result from exposure to the oils of these plants, according to Meghann Wellard, a nurse practitioner with Arundel Pediatrics in Linthicum and Arnold. Rashes can show up within hours of exposure or up to three days later, she says.

The rash is not contagious but appears to spread because areas of most contact will develop the rash first and other areas will appear later, according to Dr. Margaret Turner, of Annapolis Pediatrics. The oil on the child's clothes or skin can also spread the rash.

Treatment: If exposed, wash all clothes, shoes and exposed skin with soap and water for at least 10 minutes, Wellard says. Calamine lotion or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream can help with redness and itching. In severe cases, a prescription for an oral steroid may be needed.

Prevention: Teach children what the plants look like and to avoid them, Wellard says.

Heat rash

Small clusters of red bumps or blisters are common in hot and humid weather when sweat glands become blocked by clothing or heavy lotions, according to Wellard.

The rash can occur on the neck, upper chest and in folds of skin, according to information compiled by Dr. David Monroe, medical director of pediatrics at Howard County General Hospital.

Treatment: Keep affected areas cool and dry. After the child has been in the heat, use cool water to remove oil and moisture from the skin and pat it dry. Do not use lotions or ointments, which will only make it worse, Wellard says. The rash should resolve in a few days on its own.

Prevention: Dress children in loose fitting, breathable clothes that allow them to stay cool and dry. Avoid tight clothing and heavy lotions and creams.

Polymorphic Light Eruption (PMLE)

Often mistaken for sun poisoning, PMLE is a reaction that affects light-sensitive children, usually those prone to sunburn, after their first few exposures to the sun each year, according to information compiled by Monroe. The tiny red pimples or blisters appear on the skin up to a day after sun exposure — most often on the chest and neck.

Treatment: Use hydrocortisone cream or antihistamine to alleviate any itching or discomfort.

Prevention: Gradually increase exposure to the sun during the spring months. Wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, stay in the shade or wear protective clothing.

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