The warm weather has set kids free, so we checked in with Midland Park pediatrician Wayne Yankus to see what the spring safety issues are and what parents need to know about bugs, bikes and the dreaded DEET.
Q. Not including sports, what are the biggest dangers for kids now that warmer weather has arrived?
For the springtime, obviously one of the big things the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has always talked about is skateboarding, which requires the usually customary helmets, knee pads and wrist guards, which most kids ignore.
The second biggest injury is bicycles, [because of] the density of our population and the number of cars. So with bicycles, it's using helmets and being obvious to [motorists].
The third biggest thing is trampolines. People set up those infernal things and [kids] wind up with head injuries, broken bones, spleen injuries, you name it.
Q. Is there a safe way to have a trampoline?
The American Academy of Pediatrics is pretty clear on their policy statement: No. In my own practice, we've had one or two with permanent lifetime injuries and others with injuries. We really can't find a safe way.
Q. We're also heading into bug-bite season. How do parents know when to bring a child to the doctor?
When we get into the springtime bugs, the first thing we generally see is spider bites.
Go to the doctor when it's pussy, oozy, hot and tender or if you have any questions.
As the spring goes on, we begin to get the nymph of the ticks, the deer tick. They're the most virulent and people forget they start to show up as the weather warms, so Lyme disease becomes a May/June issue after the spiders.
Then obviously we get into the mosquitoes and green flies in June if you're down the Shore.
Q. If the bite isn't in need of a doctor's care, what can parents do to relieve a child's discomfort?
If you get a big bite like a spider bite, cool compresses help. Certainly over-the-counter hydrocortisone, 1/2 or 1 percent for a day or two or three can help relieve the itch and sometimes the irritation.
We avoid things like Benadryl sprays, because they can be sensitizing. But Benadryl by mouth can often reduce the swelling and the itching and is perfectly safe for most people.
If it's a stinging insect, you don't want to pluck [the stinger out]. If you pluck, you release more of the poison. Just take something like a plastic credit card and scrape it away.
If it's a tick, you want to pull it off in a direct, lateral manner. You take off what you can take off with tweezers and straight, lateral pull, not a bunch of little grabs.
Q. What do you recommend as far as bug spray?
If it's a child under 10, you're looking for something with a small amount of DEET in it. We generally recommend less than 5 or 3 percent DEET. Older kids, it really doesn't matter.