How to Prevent and Treat Summertime Ailments

Summertime Ailments

Summer is almost here!  Flu and cold season is gone, but the summer brings its own set of medical issues to stay in the know about. Here are a few ideas for how you can both prevent and remedy common summertime ailments:

Sprains & Fractures

Summertime is for getting outside and playing as much as possible, but being more active potentially sets us up for more injuries.  Among those are sprains and fractures. Distinguishing a sprain from a fracture isn’t always easy.  Some sprains swell so badly they look like they must be fractured.  An x-ray is the best way to determine if the bone is actually fractured. If a fracture is actually present, a splint is the best solution to allow for the swelling. Later, if a cast is needed, it will be put on after the swelling subsides.

What to do in case of sprain or fracture:

  • Get examined and treated accordingly
  • Use ice in the acute phase to help with pain and swelling.
  • Keep the affected limb elevated

Insect Bites

Insect bites are the downside to summer afternoon and evenings outside. With bites, it’s all about prevention. Mosquitoes carry diseases like West Nile and Zika, so take them seriously.

Preventing bites:

  • Use an insect repellant that contains at least 20% Deet. This is safe for children over the age of 2 months.  I like Sawyer’s Controlled-Release Family Insect Repellant in the lotion-form.
  • Get rid of ANY standing water near your yard or home.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing with long sleeves and pants if you will be out at dusk and mosquitos are active.

Treating insect bites:

  • Keep clean with soap and water.
  • Use a cool compresses or an ice pack.
  • Apply calamine lotion or anti-itch cream.
  • Take an over-the-counter antihistamine.

Poison Ivy

Hiking the local trails, camping, working in the woods, and sometimes just hanging out in your neighbor’s back yard creates an opportunity for you to contract poison ivy.  Not everyone is allergic but for those of us who are, it’s a real pain. 

The best way to prevent poison ivy wear long sleeves and pants if playing or working near brush.

If you do get it:

  • Try to avoid scratching.
  • Put a cold, wet cloth on the rash. Follow up with treating with Calamine lotion. This dries out the rash.  You can also try Domeboro solution if the blisters rupture.
  • See a doctor if the rash is on the face, or very severe, there is pus coming from it, or it persists beyond a couple of weeks.  The doctor may prescribe steroids in either a lotion or pill form.

Sunburns

This one is self-explanatory.  Sunburns are miserable and really bad for your skin but also put you at risk for skin cancer.   Still, they are not uncommon for most of us to get at least once or twice a summer.  

A few important summertime reminders:

  • Avoid prolonged exposure between 10am and 4pm.
  • Always use sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and protects against UVA and UVB – this is sometimes called “broad-spectrum” protection. Apply 15-30 minutes before sun exposure and always reapply after swimming or sweating.
  • Cool compresses, Calamine lotion, or aloe vera-based gels can help bring sunburn relief. Ibuprofen can also reduce the pain and inflammation associated with a sunburn.

Dehydration and Heat Illness

This one is huge!  Most of us don’t realize that we are dehydrated until it’s too late.  This can be mild and create an overall sense of malaise or actually disrupt our entire day if we get really sick.  Here are some tips for beating the heat every day:

  • Stay hydrated! Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids.
  • Exercise early in the day before it gets too hot outside.
  • Heat cramps and heat exhaustion are the precursor to heat stroke. If you get cramps or exhaustion, cool your body immediately by spraying yourself with cool water and sitting in front of a fan. You can also put cold packs on your neck and in your armpits.

We hope you have the best summer yet and get as much play in as possible!  Stay safe.

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