Summer Health Tips

Ah summer! The arrival of summer means days at the pool, family barbecues, picnics, sports and other outdoor activities. you’re like us, you don’t want to spend even one of those days either sick or injured—or let’s face it—worrying about getting sick or injured. Summer allows more time for children to play outdoors, but when kids are covered with bug bites after spending time outside, parents may start to worry about disease spread by ticks, such as Lyme disease, or by mosquitoes, such as West Nile virus.

Most pediatricians recommend using products with 30 percent or less of these ingredients on kids. Once you’ve bought an insect repellent, use it whenever you and your children are outdoors. Put a few bottles or packets of repellent anywhere you might need them. Make it easy so you’ll remember. As hard as it may be to think about, any single bug bite has the potential to bring illness, so it’s worth taking a moment for prevention. Parents may feel overwhelmed by the many bug protection products in the grocery aisle, wondering which ones are best. CDC recommends a variety of effective products. Check the label for one of the following active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • IR 3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus

Also in the summer other ailments such as heat rash which results when sweat ducts become blocked, usually appears as tiny bumps in folds of skin or where fabric chafes against the body. To prevent it, choose breathable cotton clothing, avoid heavy ointments and creams (they can block sweat ducts), and choose oil-free sunscreens. Also Drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity to avoid dehydration. For low-calorie flavor, add slices of your favorite fruits such as melon, oranges, berries or even cucumber or mint to a pitcher of water and refrigerate for two hours. Avoid intense activities between noon and 3 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest and when the heat gets unbearable.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, getting one blistering sunburn when you’re a kid doubles your chances of developing melanoma. Regardless of age and skin type (whether or not you burn easily), the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone, adults and kids alike, apply a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays every day of the year. Yes, even in winter and on cloudy days. Choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 and apply it 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. When using sunscreen, apply as much as would fill a shot glass — and if you’re using both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply sunscreen first and then repellent. Dress in light colors and pastels; lighter colors also make it easier to spot ticks. Skip perfumed products—if it smells good to you, it’s alluring for bees, as well.

Bitten? Act fast Start by reaching for some ice. “Ice is an anti-inflammatory, so it keeps the swelling and itching to a minimum,” says Bruce Robinson, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. An over-the-counter antihistamine can help tame swelling and itching around the bite or sting site, but if you develop hives or itching all over, facial swelling, or trouble breathing, call 911—you may be having a severe allergic reaction.If you develop a fever and aches, which can be signs of a West Nile virus infection (transmitted by mosquitoes) or Lyme disease (transmitted by ticks), see your doc. The best part about longer days is that there is more time to get out there, enjoy the outdoors and be active. Summer will be over before you know it!

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and