Summertime is ideal for splashing in the pool, hiking or picnicking. But while you’re enjoying the warm weather, it’s important to know about potential summer health risks and how to avoid or treat common problems. To test readers’ knowledge of these summer bummers, we consulted two Southern Oregon medical experts. Take our summer health quiz and see if you can tell facts from fiction.
If you get poison oak, what should you do?
- Scratch the affected area.
- Throw your clothes away.
- Take a cool shower.
Answer: 3. Once you arrive home, take a cool shower and wash your body with soap and water, says Dr. Judy Hardage, an urgent care specialist with Providence Medford Medical Clinic. You do not want to scratch or touch the impacted area. After showering, wash your clothes in hot water to remove any residue.
What is the best SPF for sunscreen?
- A minimum of SPF 30.
- SPF 20.
- You don’t need sunscreen.
Answer: 1. The higher the SPF number, the longer sunscreen will protect your skin, explains Bobbie Smith-Ede, an Asante nurse practitioner in Medford. SPF stands for “sun protection factor” and measures how long sunscreen should shield you from UVA and UVB rays. Even with an SPF of 30 or higher, you must reapply sunscreen because it only lasts a finite amount of time, and a “waterproof” product can still wash off after swimming.
How should you treat a sunburn?
- Run hot water over it.
- Use cool compresses or aloe vera.
- Rub the burn with sunscreen.
Answer: 2. You want to keep a sunburn cool by using soothing preparations, says Smith-Ede. For a mild sunburn, keep the area covered, clean and dry, and avoid fragrant treatments which could irritate the skin. If the sunburn causes deep blisters, she recommends seeking medical attention.
How do you pack a picnic to avoid food spoilage?
- Put ice packs in the bottom, middle and top layers of an insulated cooler.
- Place a bag of ice on the bottom of a cooler.
- Scatter loose ice cubes throughout the cooler.
Answer: 1. When you put ice packs on the bottom of an insulated cooler, the food on top doesn’t stay cool, says Hardage. The layering method allows the ice to permeate every part of the cooler and keep food from spoiling. However, she recommends packing foods which do not contain eggs and won’t spoil easily, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
What is the best treatment for mosquito bites?
- Soap and water.
- Scratching the bite.
- Ignore it.
Answer: 1. Thoroughly washing the area with soap and water helps prevent an infection, explains Hardage. Scratching will inflame the area around the mosquito bite. After washing the skin with soap and water, you can apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone to alleviate discomfort and reduce inflammation.
How much water should you drink on hot days?
- 8-10 glasses per day.
- 14 glasses per day.
- A glass after each meal.
Answer: 2. During summer, you’re sweating more and need to cool the body, says Hardage, so you require more water than the typical 8-10 glasses per day. However, it’s important to be aware that you can drink too much water. She explains the kidneys can only expel a certain amount of liquid per day, which equals about 7 gallons.
What should you wear on a hike?
- Tight hiking pants.
- As little clothing as possible, so you stay cooler.
- SPF-rated clothing.
Answer: 3. SPF-rated clothing protects the skin from UV rays, explains Smith-Ede, and light, cotton material keeps the body from overheating. You want to avoid tight, synthetic clothing. If you take something off because it’s uncomfortable, then you become vulnerable to the sun’s rays.
If you visit a public pool, how do you prevent athlete’s foot?
- Wear socks.
- Wear flip flops or other protective shoes.
- Use your pool towel to clean your feet.
Answer: 2. Fungi grows easily in wet places, such as a public pool. Wear flipflops or water shoes to protect your feet and keep them from touching the ground, says Smith-Ede. If someone has athlete’s foot, they can contaminate the area for others. For an extra layer of protection, wash and dry your feet when you get home.
How should you remove a bee or wasp stinger?
- Scrape at it with gauze or a credit card.
- Squeeze and pull it out.
- Use tweezers to remove it.
Answer: 1. You want to remove a stinger as soon as possible, but do not use tweezers or your fingernails, says Hardage. Squeezing the stinger could release more venom into the body. After removing the stinger with gauze or a credit card, wash the area with soap and water and apply a cold pack.