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Doctor’s Advice For Treating Kids’ Summer Rashes, Headaches, and Sunburns

Fun in the summer sun can leave little ones with headaches, rashes, and other minor ouches. To get them back on their feet, turn to the fast-acting fixes top doctors rely on when their own children are sidelined by heat.

For Headaches: A chilly compress

“We’ve definitely had some headaches due to summertime overheating,” says Jack Maypole, MD, an educational advisory board member to The Goddard School and a father of two. “The cheapest, simplest and most effective solution has always been placing a cool cloth on the kids’ foreheads for a few minutes while they lounge in the house.” The chill of the cloth constricts blood vessels and calms inflammation, reducing pressure in the head to ease pain, and the cold has a numbing effect. Afterward, Dr. Maypole gently massages the kids’ temples and foreheads. “This relaxes tense muscles that might prolong the headache, and it distracts kids from the pain.”

For Prickly Heat: A pantry staple

“After a day at the beach, my 8-year-old had heat rash under her arms and on her chest,” recalls mother-of-four Sharon Somekh, MD, founder of Raiseology. The cause? Sweat glands that get inflamed due to heat and excessive perspiration. “The rash was really bothering her, so I reached for cornstarch,” says Dr. Somekh. It works like baby powder, pulling moisture from the skin to calm the itch. In fact, says Somekh, “Talc-free baby powder is often cornstarch with fragrance. But fragrance can lead to reactions, so I always stick with what I have in my pantry.” She sprinkled the cornstarch sparingly on the rash two to three times daily until it disappeared — in about two days.

For Sunburn: Calendula lotion

“My father likes to take my son to the beach, but he doesn’t believe in sun protection! He always says, ‘A little sun doesn’t hurt,’” says Elena Klimenko, MD, an integrative medical specialist in New York City. But that’s exactly what the sun did a few years ago. “After 45 minutes, my son’s nose, cheeks, and shoulders were burnt.” His skin was hot and uncomfortable, so Dr. Klimenko turned to calendula lotion. The antioxidant-rich calendula flower has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties to speed healing. “It’s light, easily absorbed and soothing,” she says. She reapplied it again that night, and by the next morning, her son had no evidence of the sunburn. One to try: Boiron Calendula Cream ($8.99, Amazon).

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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