The sun’s out, the days are long, and playtime is in abundance. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, apparently a lot if you’re a kid.
From outdoor sports and water play to nature exploration and all the bugs that come with it, summertime is prime time for injuries – and visits to urgent care.
Here are five common seasonal injuries for kids and tips on how to keep them from taking the sizzle out of your summer.
1) Goose eggs and head bumps
Kids are an active bunch, and bumps to the head are a rite of passage. They are particularly common in babies and toddlers who are just learning to roll over, crawl or walk and are more likely to stumble, trip, fall or have another minor mishap.
When bumps happen, they can sometimes cause a goose egg, also known as a hematoma. While these fast-blooming knots on the head can seem alarming, most are harmless and typically go away within a few days. A mild head injury may also cause a mild headache or a small, shallow cut to the scalp. Don’t freak if it looks like a gusher. Minor cuts to the head often bleed easily because blood vessels on the face and scalp are close to the surface.
A knock to the head is usually nothing to worry about if your child is alert, responds to you and promptly gets back to the business of being a kid. But anything more than a light bump should be checked out, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If your kiddo has no symptoms or symptoms are minor, such as a mild headache, visit your nearby Indigo Health or book a convenient virtual care appointment.
When a bump is something more
In some cases, a head injury could be serious and result in a concussion. In rare cases, a blow can be serious enough to cause bleeding or swelling of the brain. You should head to your nearest emergency room if your child takes a hit to the head that causes:
- Unconsciousness, confusion or disorientation.
- Persistent or worsening headache.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Vision problems, such as blurry vision or pupils of unequal size.
- Slurred speech.
- Persistent ringing in the ears of loss of hearing.
- Mood changes, such as irritability.
- Trouble with balance.
- Extreme drowsiness or difficulty waking up.
Keep the goose eggs to a minimum
Wrapping your kiddo in bubble wrap isn’t an option, but there are some steps you can take to avoid goose eggs and other head injuries.
- Childproof your home, including installing baby gates near stairs and covering sharp furniture edges with corner protectors.
- Have your kids wear proper footwear. Sandals are notorious for trips and falls.
- Enforce the helmet rule when biking, skateboarding or skiing.
- Make certain your child uses the proper car seat, booster seat and/or seatbelts.
Learn more about goose eggs and head bumps.
2. Swimmers ear
If your child complains about ear pain after being in the water, they might have swimmer’s ear, or Otitis externa. The infection occurs when water gets trapped in the ear and creates a breeding ground for bacteria or fungi.
Anyone can get swimmer’s ear, but it’s most often seen in children. And for some reason, some children are just more prone to the condition than others. Ear injuries – sometimes caused by improper use of cotton swabs – or conditions such as eczema and dermatitis can also make a child more likely to develop swimmer’s ear.
Don’t place all the blame on the pool or sprinkler. Swimmer’s ear can also be caused by excessive ear wax, shampoos and other hair products, heavy perspiration and humid environments.
Typical symptoms of swimmer’s ear may include:
- Slight redness inside the ear.
- Itching in the ear canal.
- Mild discomfort, especially when touching or wiggling the ear lobe.
- Drainage of clear, odorless fluid.
Don’t forego treatment
Swimmer’s ear isn’t something to ignore. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious issues, including:
- Hearing loss from a swollen and inflamed ear canal.
- Recurring ear infections.
- Bone and cartilage damage.
While rare, severe infection can spread to nearby tissue, the skull, brain or cranial nerves.
Fortunately, Indigo is here when ear pain puts a damper on your child’s summer fun.
An Indigo clinician will evaluate your child’s symptoms and use an otoscope to examine inside their ear to help make a diagnosis. And they’ll prescribe ear drops or antibiotics if needed and provide other treatment to manage uncomfortable symptoms.
Home treatment may also help ease the pain and pressure of swimmer’s ear – but only after your kiddo is seen by a clinician first. Some remedies include:
- Application of a warm washcloth or heating pad set on low.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).
- Sleeping upright encourages fluid to drain from the ear.
There’s no need to sideline your child from water activities, but there are ways to keep ears dry and prevent infection. Have your child:
- Wear clean earplugs when they swim or spend time in the water.
- Wear a shower cap when they shower.
- Put cotton balls in their ears when washing hair.
- Use a dry towel to dry ears after bathing, swimming or being in the water.
- Avoid swimming in areas with high bacterial counts.
3. Sprains and strains
During play-filled summer months, twists and turns to knees, ankles, fingers and wrists are common. Sprains and strains account for a lot of urgent care visits.
While often used interchangeably, there is a difference between a sprain and a strain. A sprain is an injury to the ligaments, while a strain is an injury to muscles or tendons and is more likely to happen when a child overstretches. One isn’t necessarily more or less serious. Bot can be mild, moderate or severe.
Symptoms of a sprain include:
Symptoms of a strain include:
- Muscle spasms.
- Muscle weakness.
With all the running and jumping kids do, it’s no surprise that the ankle is the most sprained or strained joint. The most common ankle injury is a sprain that occurs when the sole of the foot turns inward, overstretching ligaments on the outside of the ankle and squeezing those on the inside.
Get it checked out
If your child sustains a minor sprain or strain, it’s important to have them checked out as soon as possible. Indigo Virtual Care makes it easy to get care when and where you need it – all from your smartphone or favorite device.
Within minutes, an Indigo clinician will assess your child’s injury and offer guidance on how to relieve their discomfort. And if they suspect something more serious is afoot, you’ll be referred to a nearby Indigo clinic for a digital X-ray – and crutches if your kiddo needs them.
Indigo Virtual Care is available 8 am to 8 pm, every day.
There are times when a sprain or strain warrants emergency treatment. Be sure to visit your nearest ER if:
- Your child experiences a popping sound or feeling in the joint when an injury occurs, or they are unable to use the joint.
- The area is hot and inflamed and your child has a fever.
- The sprain appears to be severe. Delaying care may result in long-term complications.
- Joint pain doesn’t improve after two or three days.
4. Cuts and scraps
When your child suffers a cut or laceration, it can be scary for both of you. And it’s not always easy to know if a bandage and Mom’s or Dad’s TLC will do the trick, or if the wound needs medical treatment.
Fortunately, most cuts and scrapes can be treated at home. Health care clinicians recommend the following tips:
- Wash your hands with soap and water before tending to your child’s cut or abrasion.
- Apply direct pressure on the wound with clean gauze or a cloth. Stubborn small bleeds may require continuous pressure for up to 15 minutes.
- Elevate the affected limb above heart level to slow blood flow.
- When the wound stops bleeding, wash the area with soap and water to prevent infection.
- Apply a sterile bandage to protect the injury. It’s probably not necessary if the wound is clean and covered, but you can also apply an antiseptic lotion or cream, or petroleum jelly.
How to tell if it’s infected
Sometimes, infection can set in before a scab can form over a scrape or cut. Signs of infection include:
- Increased pain
- Swelling, redness and warmth around the wound
- Yellowish liquid (pus) oozing from the wound.
Indigo can clean and treat your child’s minor lacerations and scrapes, including cuts that may be infected or require stitches.
More serious cuts may require emergency treatment. It’s a good idea to visit your nearest ER if:
- The cut is long or deep and may have severed a nerve.
- Bleeding is heavy or won’t stop.
- The cut or abrasion is on the eye or genitalia.
- Your child has numbness or tingling around the area of the injury.
- A foreign object is stuck in the wound.
5. Bee stings
Just like your kids, bees, wasps and yellow jackets are also very active once summer rolls around. While bee stings are common and can be scary and uncomfortable for kids, they usually aren’t cause for concern.
A normal reaction to a bee sting includes pain, redness and swelling around the site. Swelling may also extend beyond the sting site. Bee stings are also typically itch.
Avoiding bees is the best way to avoid a painful sting. Make sure your child knows how to identify and avoid nests.
If your child does get stung, there are steps you can take to ease their discomfort:
- Remove the stinger by scraping the back of a knife or other straight-edged object across the stinger.
- Wash the site with soap and water.
- Place ice on the sting for 10 minutes on and then off for 10 minutes. Always wrap ice in a washcloth or other covering to protect skin.
- Apply a thick paste of baking soda and water to reduce itching and speed healing.
- Give your child an age-appropriate acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
- If approved by a health care clinician, give your child an over-the-counter antihistamine.
When bees are more than bothersome
In very rare cases, a bee sting may cause a severe allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to a bee sting and can cause the immune system to go into shock. Signs of an allergic reaction may include:
- Swelling of the face, throat or mouth.
- Wheezing or difficulty swallowing.
- Restlessness or anxiety.
- Rapid pulse.
- Dizziness or loss of consciousness.·
Always seek emergency treatment if your child shows any of these symptoms because of a bee sting.
If your child does have an allergy, they should always have an epinephrine pen (EpiPen) nearby. Ask a healthcare clinician about a prescription. Antihistamines may also help, but always consult a medical professional before giving them to your child.
Indigo can ease the sting
If your child has a mild reaction to a bee sting or you’re unsure about how to remove a stinger or manage their uncomfortable symptoms, Indigo is here.
Simply stop by one of our convenient neighborhood locations or book an appointment online. Or skip the trip to the clinic altogether. Indigo Virtual Care makes it easy to get the care your child needs, from wherever they are. And just like our convenient neighborhood locations, Indigo Virtual Care is available 8 am to 8 pm, every day.