Nothing beats the feeling of a being a kid during the spring and summer, being able to roam free through parks and the neighborhood without a care in the world. Being a parent of a child during spring and summer, however, is quite the opposite, with many moms and dads burdened with a long roll of worries that rivals the weekly grocery list. Luckily, we’ve got a few ways to help protect kids' feet once school wraps for the season so parents can breathe a sigh of relief.
Cuts, Scrapes and Puncture Wounds
Kids are going to get hurt, and there’s nothing you can do about that. But you can help keep foot cuts, scrapes and bruises to a minimum by ensuring your kids either wear sturdy, comfortable shoes whenever they’re not roaming on soft surfaces like grass and sand or go completely barefoot, which has actually been shown to reduce foot injuries in children because it makes them more aware of their surroundings and more naturally careful. Another thing you can do to cut down on cuts is to be sure your yard and/or your child’s play area is clear of rocks, sharp twigs and other things that may potentially pierce their delicate foot skin.
If your child does get a cut, scrape or puncture wound, you should immediately clean the area with soap and water and then keep it dry afterward by covering it with a bandage. You can apply hydrogen peroxide, iodine and/or antibiotic ointment to cuts and scrapes, but these substances have been known to delay healing and should not be used long term. You'll also want to contact your child's doctor or pediatrician before applying these substances to children under the age of two, and no matter the child's age, check the wound daily to ensure healing is underway.
If the bleeding from a cut, scrape or puncture wound does not dissipate within four to six hours, of if your child’s abrasion is accompanied by swelling, fever, red streaking or pus draining from the wound, you should seek medical care, as the cut or puncture could be serious and/or infected.
Most parents are aware that they should be applying sunscreen on their children before any outdoor playtime. But more often than not, the feet are forgotten in the usual sunscreen application process. Be sure not to forget to slather sunscreen on your child’s feet as well, because the foot skin is just as vulnerable to sunburn and future skin cancer as the skin on the rest of the body.
If your child’s feet do become sunburned, you can apply cool cloths and/or soothing aloe vera to the sensitive area. You’ll also want to encourage him or her to elevate the legs to help control possible swelling and drink plenty of fluids to ward of dehydration. It’s okay to apply a topical steroid like hydrocortisone cream to the area, but doctors advise not to use such creams on children under the age of two.
Sprains and Twisted Ankles
Running free comes with its risks, one being foot sprains and twisted ankles. You can help avoid such injuries from happening to your child by making sure her or she wears sturdy, comfortable, well-fitted shoes or plays completely barefoot (as flimsy sandals and flip flops account for many little ones' falls). Kids should also be taught to use caution when jumping, playing and running on slippery surfaces like wet lawns and in mud puddles, and on uneven, unstable or dangerous surfaces.
If your child experiences a twisted ankle or a sprain, immediately follow the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to help decrease pain and swelling. Many twisted ankles and sprains can be treated at home with rest and ice packs, but you should call a doctor to make sure it's not a bone fracture and an examination isn’t needed.
Insect Bites and Stings
Spring and summer may bring a lot of fun and sun, but the seasons also bring millions of stinging and biting bugs that may decide to feed on your child, especially during dusk and dawn. Try using a child-friendly insect repellent if you know you’ll be somewhere with a high bug population (near natural water sources like lakes and streams, and in open fields and other wild areas). You can also help protect your child’s feet by making sure he or she wears thin, light colored socks and sturdy shoes. It’s a simple step that can ward off a foot bite or sting by mosquitos, flies, spiders, ants, bees and more.
Kids Will Be Kids
Worried parents should try to keep in mind that injuries and accidents happen all of the time, especially in the warmer months when kids are allowed to play outside. Most of the time, however, the injuries aren’t serious and are just a normal part of childhood and growing up. It’s always a good idea to use caution and preventative measures to avoid injuries, but there’s only so much you can do before you have to relax and just let them be. So, let the playtime begin!