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Summer Nuisances
Photo: Benjamin Gelman
I absolutely love summer, and everything about it. Except for sunburns. And insect bites. And ticks. These can interfere with a summer vacation or relaxing time at home. Recently, I found a website called eMedicineHealth1 that gives practical at home care for these interruptions to summer fun.

Sunburns: For care of minor sunburns, take ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve any pain or discomfort. A compress with equal parts water and milk can be soothing. Burow, which can be purchased at your drugstore, is also a good compress. Dissolve a packet in a pint of cold water. Soak a clean cloth in the solution, slightly wring it out, and place it on the sunburn for 15-20 minutes. A cool bath can also bring relief, as well as applying aloe vera lotion. Drink plenty of water and be sure to stay out of the sun until your skin is completely healed.

Insect bites: If you have a history of severe reactions to insect bites or stings, you should always carry an anaphylaxis kit that your doctor will prescribe. If you have a normal reaction of redness and pain, you can care for bites at home.

First, gently clean the area with soap and warm water to remove any contamination. No matter how bad the site may itch, don’t scratch. Scratching can infect the area. My mom would put a baking soda paste on my bites, and I have a friend who uses a charcoal poultice. These are known to draw out the poisons. Placing a bag of ice on the bite area can lessen both itching and stinging. Later, an over-the-counter antihistamine or Calamine lotion can be soothing. If the bite site worsens or you become ill, see your doctor.

Ticks: Improper removal methods might cause the tick to spit out small amounts of its blood meal or infected saliva back into your body. It’s important to remove ticks properly so that portions of the head or mouth are not left embedded, which can cause infection or transmit disease.

The proper way to remove a tick is with a small pair of curved forceps or tweezers. If possible, wear protective gloves to safeguard yourself from infection. Without squeezing the tick, flip it onto its back and firmly grasp it as close to the skin as possible. Don’t twist or turn, but gently pull back until it is removed. If parts of the head remain embedded, they need to be removed by a doctor. Keep the tick in a tightly closed container in case you need to later show it to a doctor.

After the tick is removed, thoroughly clean the area with soap and warm water, or a disinfectant. Apply antibiotic cream to the area and watch for signs of a rash or infection. Disinfect any instruments used. See your doctor if you become ill or have any concerns.

For helpful hints on treating other minor ailments at home, browse the above site, and keep enjoying these summer days.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sunburn/article_em.htm

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