Longer days and warmer weather mean more time outdoors. But all that fun in the sun, water or woods can do a number on your skin. Don’t let the following hazards sabotage your summer skin.
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Burns from Fireworks
An estimated 8,800 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2009 for injuries related to fireworks. Most injuries involved the hands, eyes, head, face, and ears. Burns were the most common injury. Minor burns smaller than a person’s palm can often be treated at home. Run it under cool water, then cover with a clean, dry cloth. Larger burns, and ones to the hands, feet, face, genitals, and major joints usually require emergency care.
The result of blocked sweat ducts, heat rash looks like small pinkish pimples and is usually found on body areas covered by clothing. Most common in children, it may also affect adults in hot, humid climates. Most rashes heal on their own. To alleviate symptoms, apply cold compresses or take a cool bath. Air dry and avoid lotions. If baby’s skin is irritable to the touch, ask your doctor about using calamine or hydrocortisone cream.
Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying; scratching a bite can cause a skin infection, too. Mosquitoes can also carry West Nile virus, dengue fever, and other diseases. To protect yourself from mosquitoes, apply insect repellent and cover up when you go outdoors, use door and window screens, and get rid of standing water in your yard, which is where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
Beach and Water Hazards
If you’re on vacation around the beach or a lake or other bodies of water, you’re going to have hazards that won’t be common in your own back yard. Some of these hazards include: jelly fish stings, stingray stings, and other biting, stinging or leeching animals.
You should also be careful to never walk barefoot on a beach or around the shores of a body of water. Buried under the sand or pebbles can be sharp rocks, broken glass, pieces of broken shell or other hard items that can cut your feet or ankles.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.