Sunburn, Stings, and Sprains: Handling Summer Hazards

Family Health, Featured Article, Healthy Living
on June 1, 2011
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Summer bummer: You’re flipping burgers when you’re burned by a splatter of grease.
Quick fix: Wash off the grease with cool, running water to stop it from continuing to scorch your skin. Don’t reach for the ice, which Dr. Christopher Mcstay of New York University Langone Medical Center says can actually damage the skin. Loosely bandage red first-degree burns and take ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain. See your doctor for burns that are blistered (second degree) or are accompanied by blackened or broken skin (third degree).
Next time: Try trimming excess fat from meat to prevent grease splatters, wear oven mitts and use long-handled tongs to flip food.

RELATED: Summer Allergy Symptoms

Summer bummer: You wander into a patch of poison ivy on an afternoon hike.
Quick fix: Remove all clothing that may have touched poison ivy, oak or sumac, and immediately wash your skin with warm, soapy water (wash the clothing in hot water, too). “Cleaning the skin with rubbing alcohol helps remove residue and prevent the rash,” Mcstay says. If a rash does develop, apply calamine lotion and if it’s severe, seek medical attention.
Next time: Wear light, long pants and other protective clothing when walking through areas where poisonous plants are commonly found. You can also apply a barrier cream like Ivy Block or Stokogard before you hit the trail; they absorb the rash-forming chemical in the plants.

Summer bummer: You dozed off at the beach—and woke up with a sunburn.
Quick fix: At the first sign of a sunburn, head indoors and apply a cold compress to affected areas, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain, and smooth on soothing aloe gel. If  you experience increasing pain, fever and nausea or chills, seek medical help, STAT.
Next time: Stay in the shade during peak hours (from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), apply and reapply sunscreen (at least SPF 15) as directed, and keep covered with protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.

Summer bummer: You’re horsing around with the kids and you twist your ankle.
Quick fix: If you’re unable to walk or put pressure on your ankle, or there’s major swelling or severe pain, you should see a doctor who can evaluate the injury and rule out a fracture. “For sprains, we recommend RICE: Rest, ice, compression and elevation,” Mcstay says.
Next time: Strengthening and balancing exercises can keep your joints limber and help prevent injuries.Boosting flexibility with stretching and yoga can also help.

Summer bummer: You’re enjoying an ice cream cone al fresco when a jealous bee stings you.
Quick fix: Quickly remove the stinger by scraping it away with a credit card and clean the area with soap and water. Then, apply an ice pack to prevent swelling. “Sometimes antihistamines like Benadryl can help, as well as analgesics like acetaminophen or ibuprofen,” Mcstay says. If you have shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness or difficulty swallowing, you could be suffering from anaphylactic shock and should be taken to the ER immediately.
Next time: Steer clear of sweet and floral perfumes, which bees love. (An occasional cone is OK with us.) Resist the temptation to swat at a circling bee—that’ll just annoy him and make him more likely to sting. Instead, stand very still and hope he moves on.