Physician Offers Tips to Keep Summer from Ruining Your Vacation
STRATFORD) — Before heading to parks, beaches and campgrounds for summer holidays, families should be prepared by packing some prevention and pain medicine to cope with the bugs, burns, bumps and bruises that often occur during vacations.
“Summer is a great time to enjoy and explore the outside world, but it’s also a time when we see an increase in injuries and illness from encounters with the environment,” said Dr. Frank Filipetto, an assistant professor of Family Medicine at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. “The best approach is prevention, followed by a well-stocked first aid kit and the knowledge to recognize the warning signs of potentially dangerous conditions.”
Dr. Filipetto offers these tips for surviving summer unscathed:
Stinging bugs: Bees, hornets and wasps usually are harmless if undisturbed by bare feet or curious hands, but still, stings happen. A sting causes an allergic reaction to the venom in the form of a painful red bump. A black spot in the middle of the bump means the stinger is stuck in the skin. Pull the stinger free by scraping across – not squeezing – the spot with an index card or thick piece of paper and then apply ice to reduce any swelling. Call a physician when a family member receives multiple stings at the same time, if swelling continues to spread after 24 hours, or if swelling from a sting spreads from the hand past the wrist, or from the foot past the ankle. Seek immediate medical help if hives or shallow breathing develop after being stung.
Biting bugs: Most bites are harmless, but a few can carry disease. Wear protective clothing or apply bug repellent according to label directions when outside. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn or dusk and ticks lurk in woodlands, leaf litter and dense ground cover of landscaped areas. Once inside, check thoroughly for ticks, paying particular attention to the groin, armpits and the backs of legs and arms. Use tweezers to remove a tick by firmly grabbing it as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight out. If you don’t have tweezers, you can use your fingers to pull the tick out. Consult your physician if you notice any of the symptoms of Lyme disease: a "bull’s eye" rash (pale center area surrounded by a bright red rim), fatigue, headache, stiff neck, fever, and muscle and joint pain.
Itchy plants: Learn to recognize and avoid poison ivy and poison oak. If you do come in contact with these plants, apply calamine lotion or an over-the-counter antihistamine cream to soothe the itchy reaction.
Sunburn: Prevent sunburn with a generous dose of sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Reapply every two hours and after swimming. If you still get sunburned, ease the discomfort with acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and by applying aloe lotion to the skin. Seek immediate medical help if a sunburned individual develops a high fever (above 102 degrees) without sweating, loses consciousness, or develops convulsions.
Heat: Drink extra fluids when exercising, playing, or working in the summer heat. If cramping occurs in the limbs or abdomen, rest and drink cool water, or a mixture of electrolyte fluids, every 15 minutes until the cramping subsides. Fainting, dizziness, weakness or a fever can be a sign of a serious condition that requires immediate medical help.
Swimmer’s ear: An itchy, painful infection, swimmer’s ear is caused by bacteria. You’ll need prescription antibiotic drops to clear up the infection. To prevent swimmer’s ear, thoroughly dry the ear canal after swimming.
Sprains and strains. For achy backs, joints and muscles use an occasional ice pack to reduce inflammation and pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Be alert for symptoms that indicate medical attention is needed, such as unusual swelling or discoloration; sudden pain that doesn't go away when the activity stops; numbness or pain that radiates from the lower back into the legs; shortness of breath; chest discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back, or pain that radiates from the chest into the arms, jaw or neck.
To request an interview with Dr. Filipetto, please contact Jerry Carey, University News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.