Six steps to better your health during summer months
Summer is officially upon us, which for many of us means extra time outdoors, basking in swimming pools, enjoying hikes, and much more. However, it also means you’re more exposed to certain illnesses, allergies, and infections. Wondering how you can take advantage of the summer sunshine while being in charge of your health at the same time?
We have you covered in six easy steps.
- Protect Yourself From Skin Cancer
While staying lathered up may seem obvious to some, it’s an undeniably important point to consider. The sun’s harmful UV rays can cause not just sunburn, but spotting, drying, wrinkling, and skin cancer to people with all types of skin pigment, not just those with light skin who are especially prone to skin cancer.
Here’s our favorite skin safety tips:
- Apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going out to give your skin some time to absorb it
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently
- Keep your scalp protected by wearing a hat
- Avoid peak hours of 12pm to 3pm when exercising or being outdoors when possible
We all know that we’re supposed to stay hydrated throughout the day, but despite this, most people do not hydrate enough. The risks of dehydration are even more pronounced during the summer months.
Here’s a few ways to stay hydrated in the heat:
- Carry a water bottle with you at all times and constantly drink out of it, keeping it refilled
- Use flavoring packs or lemon slices if you find water just a little too plain
- Enjoy water-rich foods like most fruits (watermelons top the list at a whopping 90% water) and some vegetables
- Know the signals of dehydration: excessive sleepiness, a dry, sticky mouth, and low urine output
- Know How to Treat Insect Bites
We aren’t the only ones who are out in our full glory during the summer months. Insects, like mosquitoes, ticks, bees, and spiders, also thrive in the heat.
Keep your summer creature-free with these tips:
- Protect yourself with insect repellent
- Look for more natural insect repellants; a natural product will have a soy or eucalyptus base
- Wear long pants and/or sleeves whenever possible
- Know the signs of the more serious dangers of insect bites: West Nile Virus (mosquitoes), Lyme Disease (ticks), and allergic reactions (bees and spiders).
- See a doctor immediately if you experience a fever, swollen lymph nodes, swelling in general, fatigue, or muscle or joint pain after an insect bite or sting
- Be Able to Identify Poison Ivy and Other Poisonous Plants
Familiarize yourself with the poisonous plants in your area by doing a quick search on poisonous plants that are common in your state. There are probably more than you think! However, you’ll likely encounter one or more of three chief offenders no matter where you live:
- Poison ivy
- Poison oak
- Poison sumac
Teach yourself the “leaves of three, let it be” rule (meaning, many poisonous plants have three leaves, so avoid them!), and always double-check the plant life before wandering into unknown territory.
If you do come into contact with a poisonous plant,
- Wash your skin with rubbing alcohol immediately, if possible.
- Relieve the itching with hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or wet compresses if it’s too late
- Avoid Fungal Infections
Fungus grows in dark, moist places, which means the inside of your tennis shoes and damp bathing suits are especially prone to this problem. Fungal rashes can also develop on your body, especially your feet, armpits, or groin area. This itchy and sometimes embarrassing rash can lead to other infections if left untreated, so if you notice a brownish-red rash on one of the aforementioned areas, ask your doctor for an anti-fungal cream. Avoid fungal infections in the first place by promptly removing and properly drying wet bathing suits or sweaty clothing.
- Be a Good Neighbor
Finally, a bonus tip: certain populations are more vulnerable to heat stroke and other summer-related dangers, so if you have any elderly or disabled neighbors, please check in on them regularly! The good deed will do wonders for your mental health.