Sunday, August 28, 2016
The summer months provide the perfect opportunity to take the kids out in the garden for some playtime, rather than to keep them cooped up indoors. Whilst great, this can also make them more prone to common injuries.
Naturally, you don’t want to hamper their fun time outside, but making sure you’re aware of the risks and know how to treat common garden injuries will make life easier.
One of the most likely injuries you will come across are cuts and scrapes. With children running around in the sunshine, a fall or trip is inevitable, despite your best efforts and warnings. Unless it’s a deep cut that might need stitching or you can’t stop the bleeding, most of these can be easily and quickly treated at home.
Firstly, stop the bleeding by putting pressure on the area with a clean cloth or tissue. You can then begin to bathe the affected area with clean water to get rid of any dirt or debris in the wound. Allow the area to dry, then apply a sterile dressing to protect the cut.
One thing to be aware of with cuts sustained outdoors is tetanus, which is a bacteria that can be transmitted by cuts on metal objects, as well as in the soil. You can help prevent the risk of tetanus by making sure your child has an up-to-date tetanus vaccine.
If your little one gets a knock or sprain, the first thing you want to do is apply a cold compress or ice pack to the area to reduce the swelling, as well as ensure the area isn’t exposed to further injury.
With a sprain, the affected joint should be rested for at least 48 hours; and you can also apply a compress bandage to help keep the inflammation and swelling down. If your child bumps their head, they should also rest up for at least 24 hours and make sure you monitor them in case they have been concussed.
It isn’t uncommon for kids playing outdoors to develop skin irritations that can appear as bumps, blisters, and rashes. These can come from various sources, including allergic reactions to certain plants, fungal infections like ringworm, as well as heat rashes, but most are easily treatable at home.
For skin irritations caused by plants, you should wash the area with clean soapy water, then allow it to heal naturally, although you can apply ointments like calamine lotion to help alleviate itchiness.
With heat rashes like prickly heat, they will generally go away on their own accord, but make sure children stay well hydrated and keep cool, and again you can apply soothing lotions like calamine to help stop the itching.
For fungal infections such as ringworm, which are highly contagious, an anti-fungal cream needs to be used. These can be bought over the counter at pharmacists or prescribed by your GP.
Inevitably, with the summer comes more bugs that can bite and sting. You can help reduce the chances of bites from mosquitos and gnats by applying insect repellent when outdoors, particularly during the evenings, but bees and wasps are less easy to avoid.
However, if you or your child are bitten or stung, then you can treat these at home by cleaning the area (and removing the sting if applicable), then applying a cold compress or ice pack to the bite area to reduce swelling, pain and itchiness. If the pain or swelling persists, then you should continue to apply cold compresses, but you can also buy antihistamine tablets and creams or local anaesthetic sprays from your pharmacy.
If you notice signs of a serious allergic reaction with problems breathing, constricted airways and intense itching all over the body, you should seek immediate medical attention.
As always, if you are spending time outdoors, always make sure to wear sunscreen, cover up and keep hydrated, as you’re more prone to sunburn, sunstroke and heat exhaustion.
If sunburn does occur, stay out of the sun, drink plenty of water and cool area with after sun lotion. For more severe symptoms of sunstroke or heat exhaustion, like dizziness, nausea and weakness, lie the person down in a cool room, apply a cool, damp flannel to their skin and fan them down, as well as making them take on water.
Playing outdoors in the summer should always be fun, but just being mindful and prepared for the risks will give you peace of mind that you and your family can play safely.