As the days get longer and temperatures rise, people are spending more time in the great outdoors. Whether you are hiking, fishing, or mowing the lawn, there are a few things you can do to keep you and your family safer this summer. During the summer months at Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic, we will frequently see people with sunburn. Sunburns can be quite painful, even blistering in more extreme cases. Applying sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater before you go out is best, and bring some with you, so you can reapply every 60-90 minutes. Wearing sun protective clothing and a hat goes a long way in protecting your skin from the sun’s rays, and sunglasses are not just for looks- they help protect from glare and debris. Keeping an extra hat and bottle of sunscreen in the car is a good way to ensure you are prepared, if you make that impromptu trip to the farmers market or stop for a hike.
For sunburn relief, we recommend a soothing moisturizer, such as aloe lotion or gel. Taking a cool bath with about 2 ounces of baking soda can also help, as does applying a cool damp cloth. Over-the-counter pain relief tablets such as Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help with pain and inflammation, if it is safe for you to take. If you do blister, try to leave them alone, to avoid risk of infection or scaring. If the at-home remedies don’t seem to help, your healthcare provider may prescribe a steroid cream, or if the sunburn is severe, your provider may recommend other care.
All that fun in the sun can also lead to dehydration, so drink plenty of water, early and often. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink fluids, and eating hydrating foods like strawberries, cucumber, melon and lettuce are good ways to get more fluids. Signs of dehydration include dry skin or mouth, fatigue, dark or decreased urine, and headaches.
We also see an increase in ticks during the summer. Wearing protective clothing like long pants and sleeves is helpful, as are closed-toe shoes. It’s best to check yourself and children after coming in from hiking, doing yardwork or other outdoor activities, so you can remove any before they are attached. If the tick is not embedded, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. If the tick has been embedded, call or see your medical provider, as antibiotics may be required. Keep an eye on any tick bites and seek medical advice if you notice swelling or a bullseye type rash around the area.
Poison Ivy also presents an irritating challenge in not only the summer, but all year long. People can be affected by the oils on Poison Ivy, even if no leaves are present, such as in the winter. If you are in an area where you may be in contact with foliage, such as hiking or doing yardwork, wear long pants and sleeves. Remove and wash clothing when you are inside, and wash with soap and water to remove any residual oils on the skin and clothing. Poison Ivy oils left behind on items like shoes or clothing can cause an allergic reaction even months later, if you come back into contact with the item.
With these tips, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer!