Summer is upon us, and so too are the dangers of warmer weather. Practicing proper summer safety can help to keep you safe. Aside from itchy bug bites and unpleasant sunburns, here are ways to prevent and treat some common health issues.
- Bees, Wasps, Yellowjackets, Hornets, Fire Ants
Generally, these insects use their stingers when they need to defend themselves.
- Skip the bug repellant as they are often ineffective.
- Avoid disturbing a hive or swatting at a hornet or wasp.
- Keep a lookout for large dirt mounds, which may house fire ants, and avoid stepping on them.
- Strong scents can attract insects, so nix the perfumes and scented lotions and control food and garbage odors.
A sting can be painful and itchy, but for those that are allergic, it can be life-threatening.
- For a bee sting, remove the venom sac and stinger by scraping the affected area side to side with a credit card or something similar.
- For all stings, apply a cold compress or an ice pack as it will slow the absorption of the venom.
- To relieve pain and itching, apply a topical hydrocortisone, antihistamine, or anesthetic.
- Seek medical treatment immediately if you show signs of an allergic reaction, including hives (widespread rash of itchy, red skin bumps), excessive swelling, difficulty breathing, and dizziness.
These three poison plants contain urushiol, which is an oily resin in the leaves. Contact with this causes a blistered, itchy rash in most people. Pets and clothes can also pick up the sap, and smoke from burning the leaves can carry it into the lungs.
Become familiar with that these plants look like. That way, you can actively avoid coming in contact if you come across them. Both poison ivy and oak have three leaves in clusters and grow as shrubs or vines (ivy). Poison sumac is a tall, tree-like shrub with rows of leaves.
- To avoid inadvertently brushing up against these plants, wear closed toed shoes, long sleeves, and long pants.
- If you think/know you have come in contact with one of these plants, immediately wash the area with mild soap in cool water and scrub under your nails with a brush.
- Rinse clothes thoroughly and hose off pets to remove any oils from their fur/hair.
- Apply cool compresses to the affected areas. An over-the-counter hydrocortisone may help to ease the itchiness.
- After the initial treatment, dry up oozing blisters with calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, or zinc oxide.
- Avoid the urge to scratch. This will not spread the rash (unless the oil is under your nails), but it could lead to infections.
- For severe cases, a doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid.
If you live in the Los Angeles area, you know we have been experiencing some heat waves as of late. Those with an increased risk for heat-related illnesses include older adults (especially those with chronic illnesses), children 4 and under, males, and African Americans.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids. Be sure to avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, as these tend to dehydrate you.
- Stay indoors in an air-conditioned place. For example, your home, a mall, movie theater, or library. Your city may also have cooling centers available.
- If you don’t have access to air conditioning, a cool bath or shower can help to keep your temperature down.
- If you must be outdoors, refrain from any strenuous work (ex. exercise, yard work).
- Watch for signs of heatstroke:
- Cold or clammy skin
If you are experiencing these symptoms, get out of the heat and get to an emergency room as soon as possible. If heat stroke is left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems and even death.
Athlete’s Foot/Jock Itch
Dermatophytes are highly contagious fungi that thrive in warm, moist, dark areas. These can include athletic shoes post-workout or a wet bathing suit. When they come in contact with the skin, a person will develop a brownish-red rash between the toes, in the groin, or under breasts. Generally, this will not go away on its own.
- Avoid staying in clothes that keep your skin wet (ex. wet swimsuits, athletic gear, workout shoes).
- Wear flip-flops or other shoes poolside and in locker rooms, showers, and saunas.
- Wear synthetic athletic socks that wick away moisture to keep your feet dry.
- Refrain from sharing towels with others.
- Wash the affected area with soap and water daily, and be sure to dry thoroughly.
- Then apply over-the-counter antifungal medicine (ex. clotrimazole – Lotrimin AF and generic, miconazole – Micatin and generic) for at least two weeks.
- If your symptoms worsen or do not clear up after four weeks, see a doctor.
This occurs when water gets trapped in your ear, which leads to a bacterial infection causing pain, itching, and inflammation. Too much moisture can change the microflora of the ear canal, allowing bacteria to multiply.
- After a swim, tilt your head and tug your ear lobes in various directions to clear out any lingering water, and then dry your ears with a towel.
- If you are prone to ear infections, try wearing a bathing cap or ear plugs when you swim.
- Consult your doctor in regards to any homemade remedies (ex. ear drops made from equal parts of white vinegar and rubbing alcohol).
- Lastly, refrain from using cotton-tipped swabs to clean your ears.
- Antibiotic ear drops are faster and more effective at killing bacteria than oral antibiotics, and are less likely to breed resistant bacteria. However, if the infection spreads beyond your ear, or if you have a pre-existing condition (ex. diabetes), an oral antibiotic might fare better.
Have you experienced any of these? Do you have any other tips? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!
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Summer Safety Tips
Check out these helpful summer safety tips to protect yourself and your loved ones from some common summer dangers.