What’s going around sunburns, tick bites, poison ivy rashes – whtm pictures electricity pylons

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SPF, or ‘sun protection factor,’ measures how much UV-blocking ability the product has in a specific time frame. Simply put, the higher the number, the greater the protection. The minimum SPF, especially for children, should be 30. Keep in mind that the protection number is only accurate if the sunscreen is applied liberally to the skin. A thin layer will impart less protection.

Most sunscreens are made with specific molecules that are designed to sink into the skin and absorb UV rays before they have access to the DNA. Babies younger than six months have more absorptive skin at baseline and therefore should use only physical barrier sunscreen with a zinc oxide base that will refract rather than absorb the harmful rays.

While the pigment cells of the skin act to absorb some UV rays, some can still get through to the DNA. Though individuals with lots of skin pigment have a lower risk of skin cancers from the sun, there is still some risk that can be lessened with sunscreen use."

"Sometimes these look very similar," Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. "Both cause runny nose. However, allergies usually involve more itching; itchy eyes, itchy nose, sneezing. A cold virus will cause more ill feeling and possible fever. Allergies will never cause a fever, even though some people refer to it as ‘hay fever,’ there should never be a fever with allergies.

This past week we have seen an increase in strep throat in the pediatric population. A rapid test can be performed with results within 5 minutes. A confirmatory DNA probe is sent if needed with results within 24-48 hours. Bacterial strep throat is treated with antibiotics for 10 days. A child can return to school after 24 hours of therapy and fever free. Supportive care includes gargles, lozenges and pain/fever reducers.

There has been a significant increase in Fifth Disease in elementary age children this past week. It is rapidly spread because it is contagious before the rash appears. Many children do not exhibit any signs of illness and are attending school during the contagious period. Once the rash appears they are no longer contagious. The rash can worsen with heat and sun exposure. Supportive measures include a cooler bath, a soothing lotion like Aveeno and a topical hydrocortisone if the child experiences itching. A "slapped-cheek" appearance is characteristic. The rash spreads to the trunk, buttocks and limbs 1-4 days later and lasts 1-6 weeks. The rash may be itchy. Other symptoms include headache, runny nose, sore throat, and fever. The illness is usually mild and self limited. Peak age is 4-12 years with infections occurring more frequently in late winter to early summer. It is transmitted by the respiratory route. Pregnant women should take precautions against exposure to Fifth Disease particularly in the first trimester to prevent fetal harm.

With the uptick in seasonal allergies we have seen some pediatric ear infections. It is sometimes preceded by a cold or allergy symptoms prior to the onset of ear pain. Initial treatment of a child older than age 2 could include fever and pain reducers and watchful waiting. If pain and fever persists antibiotic therapy can be warranted. Children can attend school when fever free for 24 hours.

When allergies are suspected to be the cause of sore throat, avoidance of allergen is the best recommendation. OTC medications (such as anti histamines or nasal steroids) may be used to help reduce symptoms of runny nose, congestion, post nasal drip, etc.

This time of year, we see many rashes at the clinic. With the arrival of spring, local residents are cleaning out their yards and coming into contact with poisonous plants such as poison ivy and poison sumac. These plants contain urushiol and can cause a skin reaction which may include:

If you believe you’ve come in contact with a poisonous plant, immediately rinse skin with water, a specialized poison plant wash, degreasing soap (such as dishwashing soap) or detergent. Scrub under nails with a brush, and ensure that your pet’s fur is also clean to limit spread of the urushiol. To reduce itching and blistering apply wet compresses or hydrocortisone cream to the affected areas. An oral antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can also be taken to help relieve itching. Follow directions on the package, and know that drowsiness may occur with this kind of medication. Seek medical attention in severe cases where much of the body is covered, or if the rash is on the face or genitals. Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room you are suffering a severe allergic reaction.

Ear infections can strike any time of year. This week we treated patients of varying ages with external ear infections or "otitis externa". These infections are usually marked with pain in the outer ear, especially when the ear is pulled or moved, itchiness of the ear, fluid or pus leaking from the ear or difficulty hearing clearly. Practices that increase your chances of an outer ear infections include excessive cleaning of ear canals, swimming on a regular basis or wearing devices that block the ear canals, such as hearing aids or headphones. Treatment of this infection is by prescription ear drops which work to reduce pain and swelling caused by bacteria.

Seasonal allergies continue to bring many patients to the clinic. In children, signs of allergies or "hay fever" may include sneezing, itchy nose, congestion, sore, throat or coughing. There are many ways to treat seasonal allergies, depending on how severe the symptoms are. Treatments may include decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal spray steroids. If symptoms can’t be managed with medicines, we may recommend taking your child to an allergist or immunologist for evaluation. In addition to medication, you can keep the windows closed, use air conditioning if possible, and stay indoors when pollen/mold/weed counts are high. It’s also a good idea for kids with seasonal allergies to wash their hands or shower and change clothing after playing outside.

Symptoms of a tick bite are a local skin wound or an actual embedded tick in the skin. If you are bitten by a tick, you should remove it with tweezers. Get as close to the skin as possible when pulling it from your skin. After removing the tick from your skin, you should wash that area of your skin with warm water and soap. If the area becomes irritated, you can apply an antibiotic ointment and cover it with a bandage. If the bite area becomes itchy or painful, you can try using a cold pack to relieve the irritation and you should seek medical attention.

This week, WellSpan Medical Group providers are seeing an increase in a viral upper respiratory illness, with symptoms that include mild sore throat and possible cough, as well as a continued spike in seasonal allergy cases and a number of strep throat cases.

For strep prevention, WellSpan Medical Group providers also recommend frequent handwashing, as the bacteria can live for a short time on doorknobs, water faucets and other objects. They also recommend not drinking from the same glass or using the same eating utensils as an infected individual.