3 Summertime Hazards That Might Warrant a Dermatologist Visit
Although summer is a time for relaxation and outdoor activities, it is also a time to be aware of certain hazards that may cause health concerns. If you spend time outdoors during the summer months, you may come in contact with poison ivy, develop a reaction from an insect bite, or get a serious sunburn. In some cases, any of the above could be serious enough to require medical treatment.
Here are a few things to look out for during your summertime adventures, as well as how your dermatologist can help.
1. Poison Ivy
The poison ivy plant may grow in shrubs or vines, with three leaves to a stem. If you encounter one of these plants, you need to be careful not to come in contact with the oil, known as urushiol. When coming in contact with the oil from poison ivy, sensitive individuals may develop inflamed skin as well as an extremely itchy skin rash.
Those who spend time participating in outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, landscaping, or gardening may be at risk for encountering poison ivy. If you have touched poison ivy, the oils may be on your hands, so be especially careful not to touch other areas of your skin or rub your eyes.
In most cases, a mild poison ivy rash may be treated at home. Washing off all traces of the oily substance from the skin as well as washing clothing is a good first measure to take. A mild rash may be treated with cool water, an oatmeal bath, and anti-itch lotions and ointments.
However, if you develop blisters that do not heal or seem infected, see your dermatologist for treatment. Don’t ignore blisters that are oozing or have pus-like discharge. Swelling and fever often indicate infection and should be treated professionally as well. You may be prescribed oral or topical antibiotics if infection is suspected.
2. Insect Bites and Stings
If you spend time outdoors, you may be stung or bitten by a bee, mosquito, ant, or spider. A mild reaction may be treated at home, but if you develop a more serious reaction, see your dermatologist.
Look out for localized swelling that seems to be spreading. The swelling may be red, blotchy, and itchy. If blisters develop or ooze pus, your dermatologist may prescribe antibiotics as well as hydrocortisone creams or lotions. When swelling and inflammation does not seem to diminish after using topical creams, the doctor may prescribe an oral steroid.
You can help prevent insect bites and bee stings if you wear light colored clothing with long sleeves, avoid heavy perfumes, and use insect repellents. In addition, you can avoid mosquitoes by not venturing outdoors during dusk when these insects are most active.
If you plan on being outdoors, especially during times when the sun is strongest, apply a good quality sunscreen. This may help block the sun’s ultraviolet rays that could damage your skin. Also, try to stay in the shade as much as possible, and consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
If you do develop a bad sunburn, you can follow these tips:
- Cool the skin quickly to prevent further damage and pain.
- Use a dermatologist-tested moisturizer to prevent further dryness.
- Cut the leaf off an aloe vera plant and apply the gel-like substance to your skin, as aloe soothes, cools, and moisturizes the skin naturally.
- Increase your water intake to avoid dehydration.
Keep in mind that open blisters with discharge should not be touched with the hands to avoid infection.
If you develop a fever or the sunburn covers a large area on your body, consult a dermatologist at East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC.