Addressing health issues
Aug 5, 2023
Summer is a time for fun and outdoor activities, but it also brings a higher risk of certain injuries. From sunburns to insect bites and heat-related issues -which could be a concern even this far north with temperatures predicted to reach the 90s later this week — it’s essential to know how to handle these common mishaps and provide prompt care, experts at Wausau, Wis.-based Aspirus Health advise.
Some of the most common summer complaints include:
≤ Sunburn: One of the most common summer injuries is sunburn. To treat sunburn at home, start by taking a cool bath or shower, as this can provide immediate relief to the painful skin. Afterward, apply aloe vera gel or a soothing moisturizer to the affected area to promote healing and reduce discomfort. “Staying hydrated is crucial, so make sure to drink plenty of water to support the healing process,” said Matthew Wateski, Aspirus pharmacy resident. “In addition, consider taking an anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen, as it can help reduce swelling and redness caused by sunburn. Remember to avoid further sun exposure until the skin has completely healed, and always use sunscreen with a high SPF to prevent future sunburns.”
≤ Insect bites and stings: Insects can be an annoying presence during summer, and their bites or stings can cause pain, itching and swelling. To address this issue, begin by taking over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to alleviate pain from bites, such as bee stings. Be sure to follow the recommended dosages on the label. “For itchy insect bites, applying an ice pack or over-the-counter anti-itch cream like hydrocortisone can provide relief. Alternatively, taking an oral antihistamine can help with the itching as well,” Wateski said. “Avoid scratching the affected area to prevent infection and be on the lookout for signs of an allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, nausea, hives, or dizziness. If any severe allergic reactions occur, seek medical attention immediately.”
≤ Heat exhaustion and heatstroke: High temperatures during summer can lead to heat-related issues such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Anyone experiencing symptoms should immediately be moved to a shaded or air-conditioned area. Remove unnecessary clothing, including shoes and socks, and cool off quickly by using cold wet cloths, an ice bath or splashing cool water on the skin. Staying well-hydrated is crucial to prevent heat-related issues, so make sure to drink plenty of cool fluids, especially water. If the symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical help promptly, as heatstroke is a medical emergency, Aspirus advises.
≤ Minor cuts and scrapes: Engaging in outdoor activities increases the likelihood of minor cuts and scrapes. Start by handwashing the wound with mild soap and water to clean it thoroughly. Apply gentle pressure with a clean washcloth to stop any bleeding. Cover the injury with a sterile bandage and change it daily until the wound heals.
≤ Mild rash from poison oak or ivy: Encounters with poison oak or ivy can lead to itchy rashes. Immediately rinse the skin with lukewarm, soapy water after contact. Taking short, lukewarm baths can also help relieve itching. “To further alleviate the itch, apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to the affected area. Cool compresses can provide additional relief,” Wateski said. “You may also consider taking antihistamine pills to reduce itching, but be cautious to avoid scratching the rash, as it may lead to further spread or infection.”
≤ Sprains and strains: Summer activities may result in sprains or strains due to sudden movements or overexertion. If this occurs, rest the injured area and avoid putting weight on it. Applying ice packs wrapped in a thin cloth can help reduce swelling and pain. While these home remedies and over-the-counter medications can be effective for treating common summer injuries, it’s essential to monitor the progress and seek professional medical attention if the condition worsens or does not improve.
Always follow the directions on the medication labels. Those with existing medical conditions or concerns should consult a health care professional before administering any new treatments.
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