Summer is in full swing and kids are having the time of their lives outdoors. With all the outdoor fun comes the possibility of sunburn, dehydration, heat rash/foot fungus, and bug bites. Although there are many over-the-counter products to utilize for these conditions, there are also some great natural alternatives. Here’s a list for your family to keep on hand during the summer heat.
Sun Protection – Zinc Oxide
The best way to prevent sunburn is, of course, to wear sunscreen, but with so many choices and chemical additives that have been linked to hormone disruptors and cancer in some over-the-counter drug store brands, what is the best choice for kids? Zinc Oxide is known to be the best and safest choice for children. Straight from the earth, Zinc Oxide offers major sun protection. According to an article by Web MD, zinc oxide is classified as a physical blocker, which reflects the sun’s rays away from the skin by staying on top of it instead of through absorption. It also protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Normally the SPF you will find in pure Zinc Oxide is 50 in comparison to the basic 30 in other SPFs. You can find pure zinc oxide at the drug store because it’s also used for diaper rash. The health food stores and Natural Grocery store chains carry it in the Sunscreen aisle. You may have tried this product in the past and hated it because it literally turns you white, but now, as people have become more health-conscious, they have come out with sheerer forms of ZO
mixed with all-natural, colored tints. There are some great products out there for adults, but they will usually be added to other ingredients as well, so always check the label before using it on your children’s sensitive skin.
On a side note for Mommies, many mineral makeup companies utilize Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide in their mineral-based, tinted moisturizers to give you sun protection under makeup. I personally utilize these products and love them!
Sunburn – Pure Aloe, Tepid Oatmeal Bath
If you do find your child suffering from sunburn, the best thing to use is pure Aloe. You probably knew this, but many people are deceived when they go to the grocery store to get it. They go and get the “blue” or “green” tinted gels that say “aloe” on them at the grocery or drug store, but these products normally contain lidocaine, which is unnecessary for healing purposes. Pure aloe is a clear gel and can be used straight from the plant or bought in a bottle from your local health food store or natural grocery chain. See this great article on the healing properties of pure aloe.
Next to Aloe, one of the best treatments is a tepid oatmeal bath. My mother did this for me as a little girl and it worked like a charm. I did it for my kids too! Oatmeal is placed in a sachet bag and mixed around in a tepid water bath. It slowly makes its way into the water, dissolves, then calms the burn or the rash.
Dehydration – Water, Summer Fruits and Veggies, Dairy Products.
To prevent dehydration, it always holds true to drink lots of water, but what else can we do especially when kids don’t take to drinking enough of it? Summer fruits and veggies are the answer. The Lord knew which fruits and veggies to make available to us during the season of heat and they are all packed with plenty of water to deter dehydration.
Stock up on Watermelon, strawberries, peaches, plums, grapes, and oranges! Not only are they packed with water, but are also full of vitamins for extra benefits. Cutting up cucumbers, cauliflower, and celery and then offering them with wonderful yogurt-based dips makes for a wonderful hydrating snack that tastes delicious. All of these veggies are made up of at least 80% water and yogurt has an 88% water content. Other dairy products that contain a high water content are listed in this article.
Another way to tantalize the taste buds is to offer frozen fruit popsicles found at your local grocery store. There are a few brands that are delicious and are made solely from fruit. A final idea is to purchase frozen fruit, add water, almond milk, and a fresh banana to them and blend them up for a hydrating summer slushy that will always have the kids asking for more!
Heat Rash and Foot Fungus Prevention – Proper Clothing and Footwear
Many people don’t think about clothing and footwear in relationship to heat rash and foot fungus prevention, but it’s highly important.
To assist with heat rash prevention, dress your child in loose, comfortable clothing made of natural, breathable fabrics during the summer. Not only will it help with heat rash, but it will smell much better! Many of the newer fabrics for clothing are made from synthetic, tight, constricting materials that do not breathe well and literally stink when your kids begin to sweat because the moisture is left trapped inside. Cotton or bamboo fabrics are good choices. Loose-fitting shorts and cotton T-shirts are always a summer win! For babies, 100% cotton onesies always work and are easy to find.
When it comes to footwear, be sure to change those socks often during hot, outdoor play days, and make sure that your little one’s socks are made from cotton or wool. Another rule of thumb is not to let your child sit in wet socks for a long period of time. For outdoor fun, an outdoor sandal may be easier and more appropriate, as it allows the foot and all those cute little toes to breathe.
Bug Bite Prevention – Essential Oils
To prevent those nasty mosquitoes from preying on your children, look to essential oils to find relief instead of chemical-laden sprays. Although they have to be applied more often, they come in a variety of forms to assist your family. You can purchase candles, sprays, the actual oils, wipes, and even necklaces and bracelets that have products in them. Most are made from Citronella, which comes from the Lemon Grass plant, but other oils that work also are clove oil, basil, and neem oils. See this article for the effectiveness of each oil.
On a side note: Not only do oils work for your children, but they are also available for flea and tick protection for your precious pets. They are available at the big box pet stores. We use three-month natural clove oil collars for our three dogs and they work like a charm!
Be aware, although these particular essential oils are considered less harmful to the body than over-the-counter chemical sprays such as DEET, available at your local store, they still contain chemical components that could cause harm, so use only as directed and NEVER ingest any type of essential oil product.
Bug Bite Relief – Calamine Lotion and Lavender Oil
Let’s say it’s too late and the chiggers and mosquitoes have already bitten your little buddy! What are you to do? The age-old calamine lotion is a great soother. Found at your local drug store, this remedy has been around for decades and still does the trick. What is calamine lotion anyway? It’s a combination of zinc oxide and iron (ferric) oxide that takes away the itch and dries up the weeping and oozing of bug bites. It is both calming and soothing for your child. Read here for more information.
Lavender oil is great for the after-effects as well. A little lavender oil on a bug bite will relieve itching and begin to heal the bite. Lavender oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which is probably why they help heal bug bites, although this has not been proven through studies, as of yet. Other studies have been done on Lavender, for different reasons. To read about the proven effects of this great plant as it relates to wound healing, click here.
Remember when utilizing or trying any of the above products for a health concern to consult with your physician. Just because something is deemed natural, does not mean that it is without side effects or harmful ingredients. Many herbs, oils, and foods are just as powerful as medication and can have interactions with current medications. So, do your research, consult with your physician, and choose wisely to have a healthy, safe “fun in the sun” summer!
More About the Author
Stephanie Wilkins is a board-certified nutrition counselor and founder of “No More Band-Aids” which is a ministry of encouragement and evidence-based research for caretakers and those suffering from chronic health conditions. Stephanie is also a veteran homeschool mom of 21 years and has had the unique opportunity to have lived in four different countries and four different states. Stephanie’s passions are homeschooling, travel, health and wellness, and her faith.
Additional Homeschool Resources
More from this author: