Summer’s Biggest Skin Hazards

    Poisonous Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

    Contact with sap from poison ivy, oak, and sumac causes a rash in most people. It begins with redness and swelling at the contact site then becomes intensely itchy. Blistering appears within hours or a few days. The rash lasts up to two to three weeks. Prescription or over-the-counter medication may soothe the itching of mild rashes. For a severe rash, oral cortisone may be given. If the skin becomes infected, antibiotics may be necessary.

    Ticks

    If you enjoy the outdoors, be careful of ticks — they can attach to you as you brush past grass and plants. Ticks don’t always carry diseases, and most bites aren’t serious. But they can carry diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A bite can also trigger an allergic reaction. Be sure to remove a tick properly. To prevent tick bites, keep arms, legs, and head covered in grassy areas and use tick repellant.

    Bee Stings

    Most reactions to bee stings are mild, causing minor swelling, pain, and itching. Severe allergic reactions occur in some people, with symptoms including hives, swelling of the mouth or throat, and difficulty breathing. If you have a severe anaphylactic reaction, lie down and remove the stinger.  Give yourself an epinephrine injection, if you have access to one, and get immediate medical care. If you don’t have an allergic reaction, remove the stinger, clean the sting site, apply ice, and take an oral antihistamine for itching. A delay in removing the stinger increases the amount of venom you receive.

    Chiggers

    Chiggers are tiny mites found in tall grass or weeds. They attach to the skin by inserting tiny mouth parts to penetrate and liquefy the skin cells on which they feed. Their bites are painless. But after a few days of being attached to the skin, chiggers fall off — leaving very itchy red welts. Over-the-counter products can help relieve the itch, but see a doctor if your skin appears infected or the welts seem to be spreading.

    Flip-Flop Hazards

    They may be fun and fashionable, but flip-flops offer little protection against stubbed toes, glass cuts, puncture wounds, or having a heavy object smash your foot. Another danger: insect and snake bites. Emergency room physicians on both sides of the country report seeing adults and children with snake bites to the feet while wearing flip-flops or sandals. Consider wearing close-toed shoes that offer better protection this summer.

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