If you're spending a lot of time outdoors this summer, there are a few things to know to stay safe.
Here are four of the most common health concerns for nature lovers:
Ticks are prevalent during the summer, and if you're in the woods or just spending time in the back yard, you're at risk. Ticks can transmit diseases, particularly Lyme disease, which affects about 300,000 people in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, bug spray is not effective against ticks. Permethrin-treated clothing is your best bet to preventing ticks.
What to do: Perform tick checks on children and be sure to check yourself as well. Inspect your entire body while showering, and if you find a tick, remove it immediately with tweezers and see a doctor. Wearing light-colored clothing when outdoors can make it easier to spot ticks.
2. Poison ivy
Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac contain an oil that can cause a rash after it brushes the skin. The rash typically appears 12 to 72 hours after exposure. The best way to avoid coming in contact with the plant is to cover as much of your body as possible when spending time outdoors.
What to do: If you come in contact with the plant, wash your skin with soap and warm water right away. Calamine lotion and hydrocortisone creams can help, but they're frequently not strong enough. If the rash is pretty bad, it's worth a trip to the doctor.
Splinters are common, especially when you're spending more time outside.
What to do: You should be able to safely remove a splinter on your own. First, wash your hands and clean the area. Then, sanitize tweezers with rubbing alcohol and try to remove the splinter. If it's under the surface of the skin, sterilize a needle with rubbing alcohol and gently break the skin over the object. It should be easier to then use the tweezers to remove the splinter. Apply an antibiotic ointment after it's been taken out.
Staying hydrated during the hot summer months is crucial to your health. Here are a few ways to see if you need to boost your water intake:
- Take a look at your urine: When you're properly hydrated, your urine will be clear to light yellow. If it's dark, it's time to start drinking more water.
- Perform the "pinch" test: When you're dehydrated, your skin loses tension. You can test its elasticity by pinching the back of your hand and holding it for a few seconds then letting go. If the skin stays pinched and takes a few seconds before going back to normal, it's a sign of moderate dehydration.
- Monitor your breath: If you don't drink enough water and you're sweating, your body can't produce enough saliva. This leads to a dry mouth, which allows bacteria to grow easily — and results in bad breath.
What to do: If you notice any of these symptoms, hydrate with water or beverages containing electrolytes. Try to find a cool place to minimize sweating as well.