Ahh … Summertime. It’s All About  Flowering Plants, Butterflies and Sunshine, Right? Think Again! 


As the summer heats up and we are outdoors longer, there is a natural rise in bug bites, poisonous plant encounters, scrapes, skin rashes and sun-related conditions. Among the many skin-related risks in the summer, the three most common are tick bites, poison ivy rashes and blistering sunburn. 

To keep having fun in the sun during the summertime, it all about avoidance.   

Sunburns can be avoided by limiting your exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., since the sun rays are at their strongest then.  Wear a hat, protective clothing and sunglasses.  Also, use sunscreen for skin and lips with SPF 30 or higher.  
If you get a sunburn, take a cool bath or shower and use a cold compress.  Keep skin moist with a soothing cream. Using aloe vera oil or gel several times a day may promote healing. If you experience fever, severe blistering or dehydration, seek a medical attention.  

Poison ivy can be avoided by identifying the plant and staying away.  This three-leafed plant can be found anywhere from wooded areas to your yard. The oil resin, called urushiol, from the poison ivy plant is the cause of the allergic reaction, causing a red, blistering rash in 12 to 48 hours. It is unbearably itchy.  
If you do come in contact with a poison ivy plant, immediately wash your skin in warm water and use a degreasing product such as detergent dish soap.  Even scrub under your fingernails.  Wash your clothes in hot water and detergent to remove the oil because this oil has been known to last a year on clothes and shoes. 
Once you get the itchy rash, it can last about one to two weeks. During this time, you can find comfort with cold compresses, cool water oatmeal bath and using calamine lotion. Hydrocortisone cream may help. Seek medical attention if you get the rash near eyes or lips or if the rash gets infected. 

 Tick bites can be avoided by staying out of high grass or dense brush or by wearing long pants and sleeves. Use EPA-registered insect repellent but read label for safe use and do not use for child under 3 years of age. Spray your clothes and shoes with product containing 0.5% permethrin before going on a hike or walk in wooded or grassy areas. 
Routinely check for ticks after you have been outdoors.  Check your pets too. 
If you are bitten, follow safe removal of the tick immediately and treat. Apply cold compresses to help prevent swelling. Seek medical attention if you suspect a tick-related illness with symptoms such as fever, fatigue, joint pain or muscle aches.  An indication of Lyme’s disease may present as a bullseye around the bite.  

Go to CDC.gov (Centers for Disease Control) and do a search on tick bites, poison ivy and sunburn to find additional information on prevention, symptoms and first aid.  You can further your search on other skin-related risks. Call 911 or go to emergency room if you have a severe reaction, such as difficulty breathing, or have a known allergy. 

Summertime is truly filled with beauty, so stop and enjoy those non-poisonous flowering plants, butterflies, and especially, the warmth of the sun.