Sunburns and scrapes and stings, oh my! Summer is here, which means you and your family are probably spending more time outdoors. And while we at FLDSCC encourage you to get active and enjoy the fresh air, we also want to help you avoid skin injuries that we routinely see in our office during the summer months.
This summer probably looks a little different than summers past. With social distancing measures in place, you may be contemplating more outdoor-centered family vacations like camping, hiking and road trips. However you spend your time outdoors this summer, take the proper precautions to keep your skin safe!
Summer Skin Injuries
Summer is a common time of year for increased skin injuries – especially for kids. Here are some of the injuries we see most often.
Insect Stings and Bug Bites
There’s no avoiding pests, bugs and insects in the great outdoors. An insect sting or bug bite will probably cause pain, swelling, itchiness and tenderness in the area. If the culprit is a wasp or bee, gently remove the stinger by scraping it out with your fingernail or a flat-edged object like a credit card. Skip the tweezers – squeezing the stinger might release more venom.
Apply ice packs and calamine lotion to the injured area to reduce pain and swelling. A low-dosage painkiller like acetaminophen can be taken for pain relief.
Seek medical care immediately if you or your child has an allergic reaction or develops hives after a bee or wasp sting. Insect allergies affect 5% of the population and they can be life-threatening for some people.
Having just 5 sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk for melanoma. A red, inflamed sunburn is a warning sign that your skin is suffering damage from the sun’s harmful rays. You can develop a sunburn on any area of skin that’s exposed to the sun – or even on the bottoms of your feet from walking barefoot on hot concrete. A sunburn may be red, tender, warm and painful.
Apply aloe vera lotion or run a cool oatmeal bath to soothe pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be taken to help with pain.
Cuts, Scrapes and Abrasions
Cuts, scrapes and abrasions are common when the kids spend all day running around outside, riding bikes and playing sports with the neighbors. If the wounds are superficial, you can treat them at home, but see a doctor if an open wound is deep, won’t stop bleeding or exposes bone.
When faced with skinned knees and elbows, clean the injured area with soap and warm water to remove dirt and germs. Next, apply a topical antibiotic to prevent infection during healing. Cover the scrape with a clean gauze pad or band aid.
Summer is a prime time for grass, pollen and ragweed allergies to flare up. If your child is spending a lot of time outdoors, he or she may come into direct contact with an allergen and develop an itchy red rash.
Allergic reaction rashes can be treated with home remedies and over-the-counter medications. Draw up a cool oatmeal bath to help ease inflammation and itchiness. Apply topical creams containing hydrocortisone or an antihistamine to relieve itchiness. You can also give your child an oral antihistamine like Benadryl. If the rash becomes inflamed, spreads or doesn’t heal, seek medical care.
Poison Ivy Rash
Coming into contact with skin irritants like poison ivy, poison oak or sumac can cause red, blistery and itchy rashes. These rashes, like allergic reaction rashes, can be treated at home with ice packs, cool oatmeal baths and anti-itch topical creams to soothe pain, inflammation and itchiness.
Tips for Safe Outdoor Fun
By following a few self-care measures, you can safely enjoy your time outdoors this summer and reduce your risk for skin injuries.
1.) Wear sunscreen. Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays when you spend time outside. Apply broad-spectrum, waterproof sunscreen with SPF 30 every 2 hours. We understand that telling you to stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day (10 a.m. – 4 p.m. EST) isn’t good advice during summer but shield yourself as much as you can. Seek shady areas, cover exposed skin with protective clothing and wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
2.) Apply insect repellent. Mosquito bites usually aren’t life-threatening, but they are itchy and irritating. If you’re out enjoying the fresh air in the evening, apply insect repellant and cover exposed skin with long sleeves.
3.) Use protective gear for activities. Summer is a great time to participate in tons of fun outdoor activities like biking, rollerblading and kayaking. Make sure you and the kids are suited up in helmets and other protective gear to prevent cuts and scrapes in the event of a fall. If the kids are involved in summer sports leagues, make sure they have the gear they need for practices and games.
4.) Pack a first-aid kit. If you’re going to spend the day hiking through a preserve, canoeing on a river or swimming at the beach, bring a first-aid kit with emergency supplies. Make sure your kit includes band aids and gauze, antibiotic cream, alcohol pads for sanitation and other medical supplies. Check out this list from the Red Cross to pack everything you may need!
Call Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers to Schedule a Check Up
At FLDSCC, we’re here to answer all your skin-related questions and concerns. If it’s time for your annual check-up, or if you’re experiencing a skin issue, please contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations. Stay safe outdoors this summer and always, always, always remember to apply sunscreen!