Summer is here, and it’s time to head outdoors! But with all the fun that comes in the sun, there are also dangers lurking. A nasty bug bite, a painful sunburn, or a bout of heat exhaustion can ruin an otherwise beautiful day. Don’t let that happen to you. Here are some ways to protect yourself.
Bypass bug bites.
- Don’t make yourself a target by looking or smelling like a flower. Avoid bright prints and patterns or colorful, sparkly jewelry, skip the perfume and scented soaps, and opt for fragrance-free shampoo, conditioner and other beauty products. If you really want to deter the critters (and, possibly, your friends), eat something with garlic and onions. Sidestep certain areas. You’ll find deer ticks, which can carry Lyme disease, in heavily wooded areas with a lot of trees and brush, mosquitoes around stagnant pools of water, and bees in gardens where flowers are in bloom. Always wear shoes, as bees and other bugs can often hover around the ground.
- Watch your cup! Bugs love sweet drinks, so make sure to look before you swig your punch or soda at the next family picnic. Better yet, skip the sweet stuff altogether and stick to water.
- Do not shoo it away. If a stinging or biting insect attacks, don’t make any sudden movements. Slowly and calmly move out of the way to avoid getting stung.
- Treat the bite right. Remove any visible stingers by scraping it with a credit card or fingernail. Apply an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes, three to four times a day, to any red or raised bite. An anti-histamine can also provide relief.
Steer clear of sunburn.
- Use the proper sunscreen. Look for the words, “broad spectrum” on the label, which means it protects against both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays). Check the expiration date. If there’s none, throw it out after three years (sooner if it’s exposed to high heat). Signs that the sunscreen may no longer be good include changes in the color or consistency. Use sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 15, but keep in mind that no sunscreen protects you completely.
- Reapply early and often. Before you go outside, apply sunscreen to dry skin. Most experts suggest enough to fill a shot glass to cover your entire body. And remember, even water- or sweat- resistant sunscreens come off. For best protection, reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, more often if you’re swimming or sweating. Don’t forget sun-protective lip balm.
- Avoid combo sunscreen/insect repellant products. Sunscreen needs to be applied liberally and often, while insect repellant should be used sparingly and less frequently.
- Don’t suffer in silence. If you do end up with a sunburn, take cool baths to reduce the heat. After you get out of the tub, gently pat yourself almost dry, then apply moisturizer. Aspirin or ibuprofen and non-prescription hydrocortisone cream can help reduce the swelling, redness, and discomfort. And drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Beat heat exhaustion
- Wear the right outfit. Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing if you’re going to be outdoors in the heat for any length of time. Tight-fitting, dark clothing holds in heat and doesn’t let your body cool properly.
- Stay in the shade. Whenever possible, don’t stay out in the blazing sun for too long. Seek shade in the trees, by a fan, or in an air-conditioned building. If you’re exercising, take frequent breaks.
- Drink, drink, drink. Proper hydration is key to helping your body maintain normal body temperature. Stick with water and avoid iced coffee, iced tea, and alcohol beverages, which are all dehydrating.
- If you feel nauseated or are vomiting, experience muscle cramps, or dizziness, get into the shade immediately, apply cool towels to your head and body and sip water slowly. If you don’t feel better within 15 minutes, call your doctor or go to the nearly emergency room. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can be serious or even deadly.
To help your body absorb the water you’re drinking, consider taking Replace® SR Sustained Release Electrolytes. Each tablet uses our advanced delivery technology to release electrolytes slowly over a 4- to 6-hour period as your body needs them to help you absorb the water you drink to stay hydrated.* And it’s available in 3-tablet packets, for on-the-go convenience. Keep one in your beach bag or picnic basket at all times just in case!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.