By Dr. Aimee Lischke of Total Family Care of Winston-Salem

Summertime is often considered a time for slowing down. School’s out, there are fewer extracurricular activities and generally the pace is relaxed. However, it is also a time for travel, whether to the beach, the mountains, or more exotic getaways. Because Dr. Hilton and I have seven kids between us (four for me, three for Dr. Hilton), we understand that traveling with kids of any age can seem daunting for those who are in charge of planning and packing for the family. Here are some ideas that we hope help you dodge the trouble spots this summer!


Take AND USE age-appropriate sunscreen. It doesn’t help if it stays in the suitcase! Mom and Dad – set a good example! If you wear sunscreen every time, chances are your kids will as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends sunscreen use for children of all ages. Infants under 6 months should have only small amounts applied to faces and other limited exposed areas.

Allergy to sulfa drugs? Try PABA-free sunscreen to avoid cross-reactivity causing rash, increased sunburn or itching.

Always wear hats (preferably wide-brimmed, to protect faces, necks and ears!) and encourage your kids to wear lightweight clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Rash guards are a great way to protect kids’ skin and look cool doing it!

Avoid sun exposure from 10am – 4pm when UV rays are strongest. If you must be out during those hours, look for shade or bring a beach umbrella. Babies love pop-up beach tents!

If you do experience sunburn, applying aloe vera gel that has been chilled in the cooler or refrigerator is very soothing. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen decrease irritation and swelling under the skin. Severe sunburn resulting in blisters or severe pain usually requires medical attention.

Beating Swimmer’s Ear (or Otitis Externa)

Brand name SwimEar (sold over the counter for approximately $6) helps dry the water that gets trapped in little ears where bacterial and fungal infections can grow. Simply apply 4-5 drops in the affected ear after swimming. Or, make your own version of SwimEar with equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar in a dropper bottle.

Ear plugs to keep water from getting into the ear are helpful for little ones who have tubes in their ears. Speak with your doctor about the brand or shape of plugs he/she prefers.

If you or your child experience tenderness to the ear, or pain when pulling up on the outside of the ear, an infection might be the culprit. Though not life threatening, these infections can be very painful. It would be worth a trip to an urgent care, or a call to your family doctor or pediatrician!

Jelly Fish, Sting Rays and Horseshoe Crabs, Oh My!

Please seek medical attention immediately. Some of the species off the coast of North Carolina can cause serious skin infections if not immediately attended to!


Sunscreen is still a must!

And watch out for bugs!
Of particular concern are ticks, which transmit several illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis. Travel to the New England states raises the risk for Lyme Disease (much less common in North Carolina).

As a precaution, line the kids up after every hike, bike trip, or rafting trip to do tick checks. Leave no crack or crevice unseen! Ticks that transmit infection are very small (often as small as the head of a pin) and can be missed easily. Check the groin, underarms, and ears!

Another bug common in North Carolina is the mosquito, which can sometimes transmit West Nile Virus, a disease that can cause severe flu-like illness and meningitis/encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Avoid exposure to the ticks and mosquitoes that cause these illnesses by covering exposed skin and using insect repellent with high DEET content. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends DEET containing products with concentrations up to 30% for all ages EXCEPT INFANTS UNDER 2 MONTHS who should not have DEET exposure at all.

Combination sunscreen and DEET products are not recommended, as repetitive application required for sunscreen can lead to over-exposure to DEET.


Airplane pressure changes can cause significant ear discomfort in infants and toddlers. What mom traveling with young children hasn’t been afraid of having her child(ren) disrupt the whole plane? Pressurizing the Eustachian tubes can reduce the pain, and the noise level! Pacifiers, nursing, chewing gum, or sippy cups can be helpful. For older children and adults, a product called EarPlanes (brand name ear pressure relief earplugs sold over the counter for about $6 per pair) can do the trick. They are not reusable, so if you plan to use these, be sure to buy a pair for each take-off and landing!

However and wherever you travel, remember to keep everyone hydrated. In short, have fun, create memories, and keep everyone happy and healthy! Are we there yet?????

At Total Family Care, our dedicated physicians, physician assistant, nurse practitioners and staff care for patients of all ages – pediatric, adolescent and adult. Working on behalf of our patients, we focus on prevention and education, coordinating care with specialists when needed. As aCornerstone Health Care Practice, we offer patients online and mobile access to their secure medical records through the MyCornerstone Patient Portal. Requesting prescription refills, viewing results and communicating with your doctor has never been easier! Total Family Care is committed to helping our patients reach their optimal health and providing every patient with an exceptional experience. Total Family Care . . . because that’s what we do!

*Sponsored by Cornerstone Health Care