Keep Your Family Healthy this Spring

Seasonal health and safety experts provide tips
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The sun is shining, plants are blooming and the days are getting longer. As kids spring into the new season beginning March 20, parents have a new list of health and safety concerns to manage. That’s why the experts at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford have made themselves available for comment on these and other Spring health topics.

BEATING SPRING ALLERGIES

From weeds to spores to grass and tree pollens, airborne allergen levels are on the rise. Wafting in with them are itchy and watery eyes, sniffling, sneezing and even coughing and wheezing for many kids. Kari Nadeau, MD, allergist and immunologist, advises that proactive prevention is the key. “If you know you are allergic, start using your antihistamines and nasal sprays now—even before any symptoms start.” Nadeau also cautions parents about the potential secondary side effects of intense allergies, which can include eye disease and sinus disease. Parents can stay informed about allergen levels in their area by visiting aaaai.org.

STAYING SAFE IN THE SUN

After a chilly winter, it's tempting to spend extra time in the sun. Although getting a little sunlight can have some benefits for children, excessive and unprotected sun exposure can result in damaging burns, changes in skin texture, and skin cancer. What to look for in a sunscreen? “I recommend physical blocker sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide because they're effective, safe, and well-tolerated by those with sensitive skin,” says Latanya Benjamin, MD, pediatric dermatologist. “Lotions and creams tend to provide better coverage than sticks and sprays,” she adds. While parents often look for the highest number of protection, Dr. Benjamin reassures moms and dads that sunscreens with an SPF of 30 to 50 provide sufficient coverage.

GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP

It takes some time to transition, and it’s tempting for parents to compensate for last weekend’s lost hour by delaying bedtime or allowing children to sleep in. Nanci Yuan, MD, sleep specialist, suggests that the best way to maintain good sleep is to keep a consistent sleep, wake and nap time schedule. A trick that might help deflect bedtime battles is using a ‘magic’ clock or an egg timer with a red zone. “When the clock dictates the bed time, it takes the onus away from the parent,” says Yuan. “You can't argue with a clock!”

These and other Spring health experts are available to media on topics including prevention of sports-related injuries, water safety, infection prevention and more.

For more information about Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, visit lpch.org.