Trip to Sunset Beach lands young boy in hospital


Maxwell is recovering from cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection, after stepping on a sharp object while wading in the lake at Sunset Beach. Photo by Bryan Howard

Maxwell Howard is back home with his family after a hospital stay to treat an infection resulting from an incident at Sunset Beach. Four-year-old Maxwell is recovering from cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection, after stepping on a sharp object while wading in the lake.

Parents Bryan and Crystal Howard, homeowners in Canyon Lake since 2008, want to remind residents and their guests to take practical measures to protect themselves and their family when enjoying time in the lake, in a pool, or even playing in a park.

Crystal and Bryan Howard with their three children.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, May 2, Crystal and the couple’s three children were wading in the lake when Maxwell screamed. Crystal quickly ran up to him as he was crying and pointing to his foot. After examining the foot, she pulled out a small object that appeared to be “a thorn or a splinter.” Later that evening Maxwell’s foot began to swell, with redness starting at his toes and spreading upward.

The next day, Crystal took Maxwell to Urgent Care where he received an antibiotic injection and a prescription for oral antibiotics. That night Maxwell’s foot was very swollen, and the young boy was in pain and crying out, “I need medicine.” By 3 a.m. the family was at the emergency room where an X-ray was quickly taken to see if there was anything still in his foot. When the results were negative, Maxwell was sent home with the instruction to wait and let the antibiotics do their work.

Two days after the incident, with the infection still not appearing to respond to medicine, the Howards drove Maxwell to Children’s Hospital in Orange where he was admitted and put on IV antibiotics. Fortunately, blood tests revealed no evidence of Staph or MRSA.

By Friday afternoon, with much improvement, Maxwell was discharged from the hospital. A day later the swelling had gone down and Maxwell was feeling much better.

Harvard Medical School cautions that bacteria “can cause infection after animal bites, puncture wounds through wet shoes, or wounds exposed to freshwater lakes, aquariums, or swimming pools.”

Bacteria is prevalent everywhere. In the Canyon Lake community we are so fortunate to have a beautiful lake, wonderful parks and plenty of other recreational areas. Bacteria from waterfowl feces and other sources can be on park lawns, soil, beach sand, or in the lake. It can also be on your own lawn, your driveway, or in your garden soil.

Harvard Medical School advises that one way to prevent skin injury and bacterial infection is to avoid going barefoot outdoors. Other activities that can expose people to bacteria are gardening, hiking and even skate boarding. Protective gloves, clothing and padding are advised for these activities.

The medical school counsels to treat minor skin wounds promptly by gently wiping away dirt, washing with antibiotic soap, applying antibiotic ointment and covering with a clean bandage. Obviously, medical attention is appropriate for deep puncture wounds and animal bites and for all deep wounds involving a joint, hand or foot.

Bryan Howard’s advice, “Wear water shoes or other foot protection when playing in the water or in the parks.” The family adds, if you experience swelling and reddening of skin that spreads, seek medical attention promptly.

We’re blessed with a great community in which to live and play. At times, it can seem that in this bit of paradise we’re shielded from anything that can harm us.

But, as Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The Howard family appreciates all the well-wishes and prayers for their son Maxwell as he recovers.

In a postscript to this story, this was not the only recent accident to affect the Howard family.

In late April, Bryan Howard’s brother was seriously injured in a snowboarding accident in Utah from which he remains paralyzed from the waist down.


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