Soothing Hot-Weather Hazards
We all love being outdoors in summertime—well, but for the mosquitoes, poison ivy, and sunburn risk. Here’s how to soothe common summer bothers and, even better, keep them at bay.
Are stings and sunburns ruining your family’s good time in the good old summertime? It’s almost inevitable: add blazing sun, buzzing insects, and questionable foliage to bare skin, and you have a potentially icky, ouch-inducing outcome. Follow this expert advice to avoid stings, burns, and more, and learn how to handle mishaps when they do occur.
Hot-Weather Hazard: Bee Stings
Avoid wearing bright colors, floral prints, and scented lotions and perfumes that attract bees and other stinging insects, and stay clear of garbage cans and flower beds.
Feel-Better Fix: Don’t try to remove a stinger with tweezers. “Squeezing the sac releases more venom,” says Shelly David Senders, MD, a pediatrician in Cleveland. Instead, use a blunt edge of a credit card to scrape it out of the skin. Then mix a teaspoon or two of meat tenderizer with a small amount of water and apply the paste to the affected area. “The tenderizer is a neutralizer that breaks down the venom,” says Dr. Senders. An over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine medication can alleviate pain and inflammation. Call 911 if the person is having difficulty breathing or is exhibiting signs of shock (rapid breathing, dizziness, or cool, clammy skin).
Hot-Weather Hazard: Mosquito Bites
Pants and long-sleeved shirts keep skin safe from bugs, but they’re not popular summer attire. Try an insect repellent that has DEET or picaridin; spray it on any exposed skin, and on clothing for extra protection. Or if you prefer a more natural product, look for one made with oil of lemon eucalyptus or soybean oil.
Feel-Better Fix: Stop the itch with hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion, or place an ice pack or cold washcloth on the bites. OTC antihistamine medications may alleviate severe swelling and itching.
Hot-Weather Hazard: Sunburn
Everyone in your family should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. It doesn’t matter whether you use a lotion, cream, gel, stick, or spray. There’s no “best” kind of sunscreen, says Dr. Senders. The key is applying liberally on all exposed areas, and reapplying after swimming or sweating a lot.
Feel-Better Fix: To relieve sunburn inflammation and pain, pour a cup of finely ground oatmeal into lukewarm bathwater and soak for about 20 minutes. (Colloidal oatmeal is sold in drugstores, or you can make your own by pulverizing a cup of plain oatmeal in a blender or food processor until it has a smooth, fine consistency.) Moisturize afterward with a soothing aloe vera gel.
Hot-Weather Hazard: Poison Ivy
If your family has ventured into an area where poison ivy is prevalent, remove and wash all clothing as soon as possible and then wash exposed skin with soap and water for at least 10 minutes.
Feel-Better Fix: Ask your pharmacist about an OTC product that washes away urushiol, the oil in poison ivy that causes itching. Relief comes quickly once this oil is removed. You can also reduce inflammation with hydrocortisone cream and itching with calamine lotion. Prescription oral steroids may be needed for severe rashes.
Stocking Your First-Aid Kit
You should keep a stocked first-aid kit in your car and take one with you on outings. You can buy premade kits or create your own with these supplies:
- Instant ice pack
- Bandages of assorted sizes
- Antiseptic wipes
- Gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Aloe vera gel
- Antihistamine medication
- Hand sanitizer