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What to do about sunburn, swimmer's ear and heat rashes

Summer is in full swing, and if you have a beach vacation planned, there are a few things you should know to keep your family healthy.
/ Source: TODAY

Summer is in full swing, and if you have a beach vacation planned, there are a few things you should know to keep the entire family healthy and safe.

NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar stopped by the TODAY show Tuesday to share four of the most common health concerns for beach goers.

1. Sunburn

Burns occur when your skin is exposed to UV light, directly or indirectly. You can experience a severe sunburn after just a short period outdoors — and people with fair skin should use extra caution. Though a sunburn and sun poisoning can be equally as painful for your skin, sun poisoning requires a bit more attention.

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What to do: For sunburns, try applying cool compresses with water or milk. If it's sun poisoning, over-the-counter cortisone creams can help. Your best bet is to avoid getting burned in the first place. Wear sunscreen with SPF of at least 30, and reapply every two to three hours. Make sure you're putting enough on — the experts recommend one ounce, an amount that would fill a shot glass.

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2. Heat rash

Heat rashes can affect adults in hot, humid weather. They occur when blocked pores trap perspiration under your skin. Symptoms range from superficial blisters to deep, red lumps. The rash might feel prickly or intensely itchy.

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What to do: Cool off — a heat rash tends to clear quickly. More severe forms may require ointments you apply to your skin to relieve discomfort. Calamine lotion can soothe itching, and anhydrous lanolin may stop new lesions from forming.

3. Heat stroke

First, you'll likely experience heat exhaustion, which results from prolonged exposure to hot temperatures. Symptoms include pale, ashen or flushed skin, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness and exhaustion. Heat stroke, though, is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion.

Here are common signs of heat stroke: extremely high body temperature, red skin, changes in consciousness, rapid or weak pulse, rapid or shallow breathing, confusion, vomiting and seizures.

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What to do: If it appears to be heat exhaustion, move the person to a cooler environment and apply cool, wet cloths or towels to the skin. Provide small amounts of cool fluids like a sports drink or fruit juice to restore electrolyte levels. If the symptoms could be due to heat stroke, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

4. Swimmer's ear

This infection in the outer ear canal is often brought on by water that stays in your ear after swimming. This creates a moist environment that aids bacterial growth.

What to do: Schedule a visit with your physician. They'll likely give you ear drops that have antibiotics to help you heal. Keep your ears dry and avoid swimming. In the shower, use a cotton ball with petroleum jelly to protect your ear.