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Posted July 22, 2019 by Lynn M Hamrich, MD Family Medicine
Summer’s finally here and we’re all about having fun in the sun – but with the heat, summer often brings along some bumps and bruises. Here are a few tips on how to avoid common summer hazards so you can keep the good times rolling.
Those itchy little bites can be more than just annoying – mosquitos can carry diseases like West Nile virus. Travel is common in the summer and mosquito bites in other areas of North America can also put you at risk for Dengue fever and Chikungunya virus. Protect yourself by covering up when you go into wet or wooded areas and don’t be a stranger to insect repellent. Infants 2 months and older can safely use insect repellent with less than 30% DEET. Make sure you keep doors closed and that your window screens don’t have holes in them to keep those pesky bugs out of your house.
We know that bees are an important part of keeping our gardens growing, but it’s never fun to get stung. Most stings just itch and swell a little and can easily be treated by removing the stinger, cleaning the site, applying ice and taking an antihistamine. That being said, if you have an allergy a sting can be really dangerous. If you know you are allergic, make sure to keep an epinephrine shot with you at all times. If you get stung and start to have a reaction, have someone give you the shot and get immediate medical care, even if you are feeling better as a rebound reaction can occur.
Fireworks, bonfires and grilling are all more common in the summer, which increases the risk of a burn. If you do get burned and it’s smaller than a quarter, rinse with cool running water for at least 20 minutes, then cover loosely with gauze and secure with tape. Keep an eye on the burn so it doesn’t get infected and change the dressing daily. If the burn is over a large portion of your body or if your skin becomes numb, white, waxy or charred, visit an ER immediately. Any burn on the hands, feet or face should be addressed by a healthcare professional in a timely manner.
You’d probably expect to come across these poisonous plants somewhere deep in the woods, but they could also be hiding right in your own back yard – so keep an eye out when playing or gardening. If you accidentally brush the sap from any of these plants, you have about 10 minutes to wash it off before your skin reacts. Most people aren’t even aware they came in contact with it, which is why they experience a reaction – redness and swelling, itchiness and blisters. Depending on the severity of the rash, over-the-counter creams can soothe a slight rash, but you may need to see your healthcare professional for a more severe reaction.
What matters most when you’ve been cut is what did the deed – if you’ve come in contact with a rusty nail, glass or a splinter of wood, you may need a tetanus shot. If it’s just a scrape, run it under water for at least two minutes, pat dry, cover with gauze and secure. If the cut is still bleeding after 10 to 15 minutes of pressure or it is very deep or gaping, it’s time to visit a healthcare professional.
We all love to catch some rays but too much time in the sun can make for a painful sunburn. Usually within a few hours, skin reddens and becomes painful to the touch. A normal sunburn can be handled with some aloe and moisturizer to ease the symptoms, but if you have second degree sunburn with blisters and swelling, it could take longer to heal and should be treated by a healthcare professional. Avoid sunburn by slathering on that sunscreen – SPF 15 or higher – before you go out in the sun and every 90 minutes while exposed, especially after swimming or sweating. Limiting time in the sun, especially during the mid-day, can also decrease sunburn risk. Children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and burns can increase their lifetime risk for skin cancer.
Don’t Get the Summertime Blues
Of course, as much as you try to avoid summertime hazards, they can always sneak up on you. No need to get upset – if one of these hazards happens to you, we have an array of ways to help. For some quick advice you can start a Virtual Visit with a doctor. For more serious issues, visit our Fairlawn Urgent Care or Green Express Care locations, and of course our emergency room locations are open 24/7.