The children have been out for a few weeks now and, finally, they can enjoy the benefits of the sun and natural light without doors, windows or balconies in between. But it is not advisable to relax too much because, little by little, the thermometers will turn against us and we will have to reset our habits again to establish a balance between the benefits of the sun and its dangers. Despite the unknown that still means how and where we will spend the summer, we can, for the time being, follow the indications of pediatricians and dermatologists when going out with the children when the heat begins to pick up.

More flexible time slots

Under normal conditions, at this time of year, we would be enjoying long afternoons in the park and hours and hours outdoors with our children. But, we are not living in normal conditions. We will have to continue to settle for an hour’s walk, within a radius of one kilometer, in the established time bands to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, since Fernando Simón, director of the Coordination Center for Health Alerts and Emergencies, It has transmitted to us the importance of respecting them to avoid future outbreaks. Fortunately, among the recent measures of the Ministry of Health published a week ago in the BOE, it is contemplated that, although the stripe for children under 14 is maintained (until now from 12.00 to 19.00), all the autonomous communities They can adapt and fix it up to two hours before or up to two hours after the current time, as long as the total duration of the strip is maintained. The measure has been taken to avoid the hottest hours, as requested by the communities that usually suffer the highest temperatures in these months. Andalusia, for its part, which already exceeded 30 ºC a few days ago, has proposed, pending its approval, that the departure of the little ones be between 12.00 and 14.00 and from 19.00 to 21.00, bypassing the central hours of the day , when radiation is more dangerous.

Coronavirus survives the heat

At the beginning of the quarantine, we all hoped that the heat would end the virus. But, today, that is not so clear. The Dra. María García-Onieva Artazcoz, pediatrician of the Entrevías Health Center, Madrid, and general secretary of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), He states that “for some researchers, high temperatures could inactivate the virus, but the spread of the pandemic through hot areas belies this theory. It is possible that there will be a lower incidence of the epidemic, but not its disappearance. ” Along these lines, the WHO reports that exposing oneself to temperatures above 25ºC does not prevent the disease, and it can also be contracted, no matter how sunny the day is or how hot the climate is. Ultimately, we cannot let our guard down.

The harmful effects of the sun

The sun is necessary for the growth of children because, among other things, it allows their bodies to synthesize vitamin D, which fixes calcium to the bones. But at the same time, minors are one of the groups most vulnerable to the damage of prolonged sun exposure, including dehydration, exhaustion, cramps, heat stroke and worsening of chronic conditions. But, above all, burns on the skin, on which the coronavirus also seems to impact, so it deserves special attention. According to him Dr. Jesús Tercedor Sánchez, specialist in pediatric dermatology at the Virgen de las Nieves hospital in Granada, and spokesperson for the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV), “skin lesions reminiscent of chilblains have been detected, frequent in the cold months, but not in March, April or May, as we have been observing, in cases of covid-19. It affects the hands and feet, with itching or pain, and they usually resolve in about two weeks. ” In turn, Dr. García-Onieva notes that “these virus-associated injuries do not have to worsen with exposure to the sun, as long as it is done properly.”

The sun necessary to recover vitamin D

Another fear that we have had during confinement is that the lack of sun could cause a drop in vitamin D levels in children. Dr. Tercedor reassures us: “the changes in vitamin D levels are more chronic; in less than two months of confinement, the descent should not be problematic. A priori it will not be necessary to take nutritional supplements either, as soon as physical activity, healthy eating and sun exposure are resumed, the levels should normalize.

How to go for a walk facing the heat

The measures are under constant review, so they may change from one day to the next. For now, we can get hold of the kit of expert recommendations, with which to minimize the risks of contagion and the harmful effects of the sun every time we go out with children on hot days, while we lead the way to the new normality.

Progressive exposure. The benefit of being outdoors is of little use if we abuse the sun. For this reason, the exhibition must be progressive, from less to more, especially after so many days of confinement. The SEMG (Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians) recommends starting with 5 minutes the first few days and gradually increasing.Vitamin D. When vitamin D is synthesized the most it is 12 to 16 hours, but they are just the most dangerous hours. For this reason, Dr. Tercedor says that “a one-hour walk, starting at 6:00 p.m., is enough to generate the necessary vitamin D, without suffering the side effects of the sun.”Photoprotection. “Sun protection measures are standard, not only in confined season. We must remember that this is not only the cream, but the use of a cap and light clothing with UV protection. ” points the Dr. Tercedor. In addition, the dermatologist clarifies that “it has been widely demonstrated that the use of photoresists does not inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D, so it is important never to stop using them. In younger children, the use of barrier sunscreens is recommended, with physical sunscreens – which reflect or “bounce” the ultraviolet rays – that do not penetrate the skin, “says the doctor..Hydration. It is important that children drink enough liquid a day, without waiting to be thirsty; This is a sign that there is already dehydration.Safety distance. “Although it is probably the most difficult thing in the case of children, one of the main measures to avoid the spread of the virus is to keep two meters of social distance,” says the pediatrician of the AEP.Mask. Although it is not mandatory, the mask (hygienic or surgical) will still be highly recommended for children over the age of six, especially if the safety distance cannot be respected. Exactly, in a measure published this Wednesday, the Ministry of Health exempts children under the age of six from using them. In its drafting, the BOE explains that “those over this age will have to use it” on public roads, in outdoor spaces and in any closed space (…) “Dr. García-Onieva believes that” there will have to be teach children the need to wear it, especially in closed environments. ”Gloves The Ministry of Health has developed an infographic, advising against its use, since it is easy for them to become contaminated and give the feeling of false protection.Handwashing. If one thing the children (and us) have learned during this confinement, it is to wash their hands well with soap. It is the most important measure when they get home and often. And for the walk, bring a bottle of hydroalcoholic gel.Back home. The home should be cool and ventilated. The WHO recommends temperatures below 30º during the day and 24º at night.

Beaches and pools: foci of contagion?

Whoever says heat thinks of summer, beaches and swimming pools. The summer measures are still in the making, however, the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has produced a report on the transmission of the coronavirus in aquatic environments, in relation to establishing the opening of spaces for bathing. There is no evidence yet that the virus survives in water, but salt does appear to be an effective biocide, so action at sea may be limited. Not so in freshwater rivers. The pools may be opened to the public only in the territories that have passed to phase 2 (El Hierro, La Gomera, La Graciosa, in the Canary Islands, and Formentera, in the Balearic Islands). But with restrictions: prior appointment, maximum capacity of 30% and shifts. Cleaning should be carried out at least three times a day, and locker room showers and water sources cannot be used.

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