By Sherry Torkos, holistic pharmacist
Who has more bumps, scratches, bug bites and runny noses than kids? And yet it seems that many of the most common over-the-counter medications for those things have risky side effects for our little ones.
As a pharmacist and a mom, holistic pharmacist, I am happy to share my picks for smarter and safer alternatives.
For Itchy Bug Bites
Hydrocortisone creams help with the itching, swelling and redness. But they can cause kids’ skin to itch, burn, dry out and change color.
A natural alternative is to use an ointment that contains tea tree oil, such as Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Skin Ointment. Tea tree has antiseptic, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It helps take the sting and itch out of bug bites, and it’s good for minor cuts and irritations.
For Painful Bumps and Bruises
Children can be at particular risk of side effects from aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen, which can cause serious side effects such as liver and kidney damage, ringing in the ears, stomach bleeding, rebound headaches and hair loss.
Instead, apply an ice pack to the area: 10 minutes on/10 minutes off. Ice helps relieve pain and reduce swelling. Similasan Arnica Active Spray might also be effective.
For Red, Itchy Eyes
Allergies are common this time of year, and can lead to itchy, watery eyes. Be careful about using OTC medicated eye drops because they contain vasoconstrictor drugs, which have side effects if overused.
Similasan Allergy Eye Relief is a natural option. It helps to stimulate the body’s own healing ability and provides soothing relief. It doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, and you don’t have to worry about the rebound effect.
For Itchy Skin Caused by Bug Bites, Poison Ivy or Poison Oak
Oatmeal can help calm and soothe skin itching, but ready made products can be expensive. Instead, grind whole oats in a coffee grinder to release their oils.
Put a half cup of the ground oats into the bath water. Add a couple drops of lavender. Another alternative is Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Skin ointment.
Tea tree oil has antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-viral properties. It helps take the sting and itch out of bug bites, and it’s good for minor cuts and irritations.
For Foot Fungus
Kids tend to get athlete’s foot because their feet get moist from playing sports, or they spend a lot of time at the neighborhood pool.
Make a foot soak by putting a couple of drops of tea tree oil into a small basin of water.
For Sun Protection
Many sunscreens contain harsh and irritating chemicals, such as oxybenzone, which can penetrate the skin, cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones. Instead, choose a mineral-based sunscreen that contains zinc oxide.
Zinc provides a physical barrier to the sun’s rays rather than chemical protection.
Look for Goddess Garden Organics sunscreens, which contain organic ingredients and are safe for sensitive skin. Unlike chemical sunscreens, which need to be applied at least 20 minutes before going in the sun, products containing zinc provide immediate protection.
For skin that’s red and hurts from too much sun, apply cool compresses with pure aloe vera gel to alleviate pain and promote healing.
About the author:
Sherry Torkos is a pharmacist, author, and certified fitness instructor. As a leading health expert, she has delivered hundreds of lectures to medical professionals, and is frequently interviewed on radio and TV talk shows throughout North America and abroad.