By Dr. Julia Ellison,
MedExpress Urgent Care
Camp is a great way for kids to get outside, get active and meet new friends. Whether it’s an overnight summer camp or a specialty day camp, kids will likely be participating in outdoor activities and playing near other children. While camp is an opportunity for them to make memories and grow socially, the combination of summer camps’ outdoor play and communal spaces can increase a child’s likelihood of picking up a camp-related illness.
At MedExpress, we typically see an uptick in outdoor-related illnesses and injuries such as sprains, strains, wounds, rashes, skin irritations and sunburn throughout the summer. Knowing what to look for when a camper returns home can help ensure a healthier summer for everyone.
What To Look For
Here are six common post-camp health concerns:
Water-Related Illness – From swimming pools to lakes, summer camp and swimming are practically synonymous. However, summer is peak time for waterborne illnesses. Be on the look-out for pink eye, summer’s ear and recreational water illness – a sickness that occurs when swimmers come in direct contact with contaminated water resulting in diarrhea.
Infected Bug Bites – It’s not uncommon for campers to return with bug bites, which will typically clear up in a few days. However, if you child has pus in or around the bite, swollen glands or increased swelling, pain or redness around the bite, it may be infected and antibiotics may be required.
Poison Ivy/Rashes − Poison Ivy/Rashes: “Leaves of three” can sometimes be hard to spot, especially for children. Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac all result in an itchy, red rash. Within 2-3 days, small blisters may begin to form. It’s important to wash all clothing after a child returns from camp as the oils may still remain. If the rash covers a large area of the body, is near the mouth, eyes or genital areas, has pus coming from the blisters or your child is experiencing a fever over 100 degrees, consider seeking medical attention.
Head Lice: Sesame seed-sized white specks on the scalp, often behind ears and at the base of the neck, are one key sign of lice. The eggs or nits can often be found one-quarter of an inch down the hair shaft. Fortunately, there aren’t any serious medical consequences with head lice. They’re itchy and scratchy, but they don’t spread disease. However, it’s important to know that constant scratching can open the skin and lead to a secondary infection.
Ticks: Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through the bite of an infected blacklegged (deer) tick. If the infected tick is attached to a person for 36-48 hours, Lyme disease can be transmitted. Make sure to check children’s clothing and belongings for ticks upon return home. If a tick is lodged, use tweezers to remove the tick by squeezing near the head. If unable to remove the entire tick, seek medical attention.
Bedbugs: Bedbugs are spread through contact with bedding, clothing and luggage that contains the bug. Bedbug bites are small, itchy red bumps that can sometimes form in a straight line on the body. Inspect your child for bites and their belongings for dark excrement spots on fabric, tiny white eggs and skin shedding from nymphs. If bedbugs are present, call an exterminator.
Dr. Julia Ellison, D.O. is an Area Medical Director for MedExpress Urgent Care, a neighborhood health care provider serving more than 3 million patients each year.