Houston –Heading to the beach or lake this summer means taking extra precautions to stay healthy and safe. Doctors at Baylor College of Medicine (www.bcm.edu) have some advice to make sure the summer fun isn’t interrupted.
The first word of advice usually given when plans outside are made is to wear sunscreen to prevent skin damage that could eventually lead to cancer.
“Once you are sunburned nothing helps to minimize damage or peeling,” said Dr. John Rogers, professor and interim chair of the department of family and community medicine at BCM (http://www.bcm.edu/familymed/index.cfm?PMID=0). “Prevention is best but when that doesn’t work treating and minimizing pain is the next step.”
Using a wet compress will help soothe the burn as well as a topical anti-inflammatory. Rogers suggests dissolving an aspirin into the compress or using lotions containing aloe vera on the burn. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can also help ease discomfort as the burn heals.
Jumping in and out of water usually means footwear is no where in sight, so foot injuries are a possibility. If a cut occurs Rogers says the fun doesn’t necessarily have to stop.
“If the cut is very shallow you can continue to swim, but make sure to wash thoroughly later and put an antibiotic ointment along with a band aide on it,” he said. “However, if there is an actual gap in the skin, impaired movement, excessive pain or more bleeding than you think there should be, it might be time to call the physician.”
Rogers said most of the head, neck and back injuries during the summer are from falls from slipping on a wet surface, getting in and out of boats and diving into shallow water.
“You should see a doctor immediately if you have severe headache, chest pain, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, dizziness or fainting,” he said. “Some of these symptoms are signs of a concussion, which should also be treated as soon as possible.” Symptoms for concussion include headache, confusion, dizziness, coordination problems, disorientation, nausea, slurred speech or not remembering the event that caused the injury.
Rogers advises, “If you aren’t sure if an injury is severe, it is better to err on the side of caution.”