The sandbox at our local park had always seemed a little sketchy to me. I figured it was like a litter box for the not-quite-potty-trained, and that was just during the day -- I had all sorts of horrible fantasies about what went on in that sandbox in the dark of night (the two things I was most scared of my daughter scooping up in her shovel were syringes and condoms, both used). But when a friend's son caught scabies from a sandbox (at a different park, but still), even I was shocked. Scabies?? Isn't that what sailors get? Actually I was thinking of scurvy, but scabies are still pretty gross: A super-itchy rash caused by an allergic reaction to the eggs and feces of little parasitic mites that burrow under the skin.
Ick, I can't even think about it without getting a shiver of disgust! And with good reason: Sandboxes are one of the germiest places you can possibly imagine, more pathogen-riddled than even the average toilet seat in an elementary school bathroom. Of course it's incredibly hard to ban your toddler from playing in sandboxes altogether. Ever try explaining to a two-year-old that she can't play in the sand with her friends because she might get a yucky rash? (Insert screaming tantrum here.)
So even if you can't keep your kid out of the sandbox this summer, there are a few things you can do to keep her safe:
- Change her clothes and wash her off as soon as possible once she's out of the sandbox; even a rinse in the sprinkler at the park or a rubdown with baby wipes is better than nothing.
- If you can, stick to sandboxes that you know are covered at night so stray animals (carriers of scabies) can't get inside.
- Before she gets in the box, do a quick once-over to make sure nothing hazardous is lurking just below the surface of the sand (syringes! condoms! poop!).
Has your toddler ever gotten sick from playing in a sandbox?
Image via edenpictures/Flickr