You and your kids wait all year for summer. Finally, no more school for the kids and a nice vacation for the entire family, too. But roaming in the woods and meadows or hanging out on summer nights exposes you to burns and bugs and bites, among other minor injuries.
At Trinity Salem Family Health Clinic, expert nurse practitioner Yaminah Matthews, APRN, FNP-C, and our team want to keep you healthy all year round. Here are a few tips on how to do that despite summer’s bugs and plants.
Ironically, the sun’s inviting rays that feel so warm and cozy can make the outdoors just plain dangerous. Even though the melanin in your skin is designed to absorb the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, melanin doesn't work well enough if you’re outdoors for long. Or, especially, if you’re pale and therefore “light” on melanin (i.e., skin pigment)
No matter how dark or light your skin, you’re at risk for sun burns and, eventually, skin cancer.
Although people with darker skin tones absorb the sun’s ultraviolet rays better than lighter-skinned people, the radiation still does harm. Skin cancers in African Americans are potentially more dangerous; they’re harder to spot in earlier, treatable stages.
Adopt good sun protection practices. One way to remember sun protection is through, “Slip! Slop! Slap!® and Wrap” which means:
These rules are especially important between 10 am and 4 pm when the sun’s highest in the sky.
Dehydration is another common summertime problem. When you’re active while outdoors, you lose moisture at a much higher rate than when indoors or in cold weather. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration and fatigue. Think “8-of-8” — eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
Another summer hazard comes from insects, in the form of bites and stings. Whether you’re in the park or simply walking down the street, you could be bitten or stung by:
Insects can be found most everywhere. A few measures go a long way toward warding off dangerous bites and stings.
Apply insect repellent before heading to a park. Cover yourself with clothing, too, including a hat. Insects can invade from the air or be found in the grass, so head-to-toe protection is best.
If you get stung anyway, apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling. If your swelling doesn’t go away or you develop hives, see us as soon as possible. If you’ve been bitten by a tick and you’re unsure how to remove it, give us a call so we can help.
Poison ivy is an extremely sturdy plant that can crop up in vacant lots and parks. Poison ivy is a vine-like plant with three pointed leaves. Its itchy, uncomfortable rash can be treated with over-the-counter medications made especially for poison ivy. If your rash spreads or becomes infected, come to see us.
Stinging nettle can also hurt you. This plant is usually found near water. It grows fairly tall. If you walk through some plants and experience instant, stinging pain, it’s probably stinging nettle. Luckily, the pain and itching last only minutes.
With a few preventive techniques, you can stay healthy all summer long. However, if you do experience a summer burn, sting, bite, or rash, contact us for minor injury care right away. Have a happy (safe) summer!