By Dr. Victor Gong, Medical Director of 75th St. & 126th St. Medical, Ocean Pines Medical & Doctors Weight Control & Wellness centers, Ocean City, MD.
Every year thousands of Americans flock to the beach to enjoy the sun, fun and surf. Most enjoy their vacation without incident, but with some preparation they can insure that there vacation will be an accident or injury free one. We see thousands of injuries at the beach each summer, and the most common ones include sunburn, insect stings, jellyfish stings, and tick bites. Here are some tips from the health experts at our facilities.
Before you spread out the blanket and spread on the sun lotion, there are a few things you should know about summertime skin care, so that you get some color on your face instead of burned again!
The most susceptible are people who are fair skinned, tan poorly, have red or blonde hair or are blue-eyed.
Sunblockers help prevent skin cancer, sunburn and retard the aging effects of the sun. Get a sunblock with the highest number if you are one of those more likely to burn, preferably 15 or greater. If you are less likely to burn then use a sunblock that has a lower number.
It takes at least 1 ounce of sunblock (the amount to fit in one of those coffee scoops) to cover you effectively from head to toe.
Sun blocks should be applied at least once an hour while your in the sun – more often if you are perspiring or swimming. Remember that even those sunblocks that claim to be waterproof, wash off or thin out and need to be reapplied.
Apply the sunblock 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun for a while, say about 1 hour, you should seek a place in the shade to let your skin neutralize. During this time (10 minutes should be sufficient) it is wise to reapply sunblock.
Even if you already have a tan, you can still burn if you don't take the proper precautions.
Lyme disease is caused by the bite of a tick. The first sign of the disease is a red dot, where the tick bit, then expands to a rash. The rash looks like an expanding red ring with a clear center, but may vary. Flu like symptoms such as fever, headache, lethargy, muscle aches are followed by inflammation of the joints. It is important you seek medical attention if any of the symptoms appear. Unless treated, the disease will return in cycles for several years.
If bitten, gently and slowly pull the tick from your skin with tweezers positioned as close to the tick head as possible. Disinfect the area with alcohol and check to see that all of the tick has been removed.
Bees, Hornets and Wasps are among the more common stingers. The venom of stinging insects causes pain, swelling and redness for about 2 days. For relief, remove the stinger and sting sac by dragging it from the wound with a needle. In a pinch a credit card can be used instead. Don't use tweezers because more venom might be squeezed out. Wash the wound with soap and water, apply cold compresses to reduce the swelling. Take aspirin or Tylenol if you feel continuing pain and discomfort. If you begin to experience severe reactions such as dizziness or difficult breathing, get emergency treatment immediately. The next time walk calmly away from insects and when outdoors avoid wearing perfume or bright yellow clothing.
While the jellyfish looks not only beautiful but harmless, its tentacles are an entirely different situation. The tentacles are long, spindly appendages that hang from the underside of the jellyfish. When they come in contact with the skin the result is a red welt and severe pain. Gently wash the area with a mild soap and water, then apply liberal amounts of meat tenderizer (MSG, Accent) to the still wet area. Benadryl will help lessen the reaction. If the reaction worsens see a physician.
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