The lazy days of summer are just about here and you probably can’t wait to enjoy the pleasures that come with this season. Before you do, you may want know what to do to keep yourself protected from the elements. The last thing you want to be doing is spending your vacation days cooped up due to a severe sunburn or heat exhaustion.
Here are eight common health problems that tend to happen in summer…
- Sunburns. Skin cancer affects more than two million Americans each year. To protect yourself from harmful UV rays, stay out of direct sunlight during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cover up by wearing hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved-shirts, or hanging out under shade, and follow these tips for buying and applying sunscreen. If you do happen to get burned, sponge your skin with cooled chamomile tea since it contains great anti-inflammatory properties, or apply aloe vera gel.
- Eye Damage. Yes, UV exposure can damage the eyes causing cataracts, benign growths on the eye’s surface, and snow blindness, a temporary and painful sunburn of the eye. It can also lead to skin cancer around the eye, so make sure your sunglasses guarantee 100% UV protection.
- Food Poisoning. We all love to barbeque, but it can send you to the bathroom with severe stomach cramps if food poisoning sets in. Food poisoning is prevalent during the summer because of leaving food out in the heat. Also, not cooking meat properly or using contaminated cutting boards can also pass on bacteria. Marinate meat in the fridge, eat meat while it’s still hot, and don’t eat any foods that have been left out more than two hours (one hour if it’s over 90 degrees). If you suspect you have food poisoning, stay close to a bathroom and sip water to prevent dehydration.
- Bug Bites. When you get bit, whether by a mosquito, black fly, or even from ants, you can usually treat it with an over-the-counter antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream. However, a serious bite (from a spider, or worse yet, a snake!), should be treated by a doctor immediately. For a natural mosquito prevention treatment, try using oil of lemon eucalyptus to give you some protection. If you need something stronger, look for a bug repellent that contains DEET.
- Lyme Disease. Blacklegged ticks, also called deer ticks, are another bug to avoid since they can transmit Lyme disease. When walking through wooded areas, stick to the trails, protect your legs with pants or socks, and don’t be afraid to use bug spray containing DEET. Remove all your clothes when you get home and do a tick inspection. If you happen to find one, remove it with tweezers immediately.
- Swimming Safety. Even if you’re an experienced swimmer, undertows and rip currents can be deadly. Only swim in supervised areas, never swim alone, and don’t dive in shallow or unfamiliar water. Another no-no is mixing alcohol with swimming; it’s best to be completely alert and aware when in the water to prevent swimming-related accidents.
- Poison Ivy. Poison ivy is not only an uncomfortable itchy thing to have, but it can be painful. When walking through the woods, stick to clear trails and wear long pants or socks to protect your legs. When you accidentally brush up against poison ivy, the uroshiol oil rubs onto your skin and can instantly create redness, raised bumps, blisters, and an insatiable itch. First and foremost, get out of the clothes you were wearing on the hike and wash the oil off your skin using soap and cold water (warm water opens your pores) to prevent the rash from spreading. Applying tea tree oil can help heal the rash quickly.
- Heat Exhaustion. Not drinking enough fluids in hot weather can cause serious health risks and even be life threatening. Heat stroke symptoms include a fast pulse, short, rapid breathing, and confusion. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 and immediately move to a cooler, shaded area.
Don’t risk it! Be aware of these pitfalls, try to avoid them and enjoy your summer!