Sizzle Safely: Cool Tips to Beat the Heat and Keep Your Summer Glow

If you’re planning a vacation, camping trip, beach volleyball game, or a lakeside barbecue, keep in mind that with the fun of summer activities comes a variety of health risks. Here are some common summer health issues and our top solutions to protect the whole family.

1. Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is dangerous, particularly for children. It occurs when the body’s temperature rises drastically with no time to adjust. Dehydration also contributes. If you or your child are feeling disoriented, dizzy, or exhausted in intense heat, or if nausea or vomiting is present, seek medical help immediately. Preventing heat stroke involves staying out of extreme heat, getting adequate rest, and keeping hydrated with electrolyte fluids containing sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

2. Dehydration

Dehydration can be deadly, especially for children who have less fluid reserve and can dehydrate relatively quickly. It’s particularly hazardous in dry climates because sweat evaporates so fast that you may not notice how much fluid you’re losing. Symptoms can resemble heat stroke, so it’s important to cool down and rest. Replenish fluids and electrolytes, but if dehydration is severe, a saline IV could be necessary. Extreme dehydration and heat stroke require prompt medical attention.

3. Sunburn and SPF

Repeated sunburn poses a significant health risk, increasing the chances of developing skin cancer. Although commercial sunscreens may contain harmful ingredients, some sun exposure is needed to produce cancer-fighting vitamin D3. To avoid sunburn, use natural sunscreens like zinc oxide and don’t rely on SPF ratings. Treat burns topically with arnica gel, and consume fresh vegetables, mint, and honeysuckle.

4. Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear happens when water enters the ear canal and gets trapped by excess ear wax, temporarily reducing hearing and potentially leading to ear infections. To relieve discomfort, apply an antiseptic, softening agent such as tea tree oil, grapefruit seed oil, garlic-infused olive oil, or a rubbing alcohol and white vinegar mixture. Lie sideways to allow the mixture to sit in the ear before gently flushing it out. Supplements that reduce inflammation and support the immune system and circulation, along with massages around the ears, nose, and forehead, can also help.

5. Poison Oak and Poison Ivy

Oils in poison oak and poison ivy can cause allergic reactions, including weepy rashes, itching, redness, and swelling. Reactions can range from mild to life-threatening. Immediately rinse affected areas with cold water. Treatments can include topical creams containing zinc oxide and ferric oxide, calamine lotion, Grindelia-infused herbal infusions, green clay, oatmeal, salt, or baking soda.

6. Bee, Wasp, and Hornet Stings

Bees, wasps, and hornets are attracted to fresh water sources where people also congregate. While stings can be painful and annoying, some individuals are severely allergic and may require an EpiPen (epinephrine) for life-threatening reactions. If stung, remove the stinger from the top to avoid releasing more venom into your body. Use absorbents such as sea salt, bentonite clay, or baking soda to draw venom out of the sting, then apply soothing ointments like arnica gel or calendula balm to reduce inflammation.

7. Heat Rash

Heat rash occurs when blocked sweat ducts cause the ducts to swell and become itchy. Prolonged cases can result in a more serious infection, potentially spreading to other areas and requiring medical attention. To alleviate heat rash, remove clothing, avoid the heat or sun, and allow the skin to air-dry. Topical remedies like Chinese herbs Ce Bai Ye (Platycladus orientalis), menthol, and camphor can also cool the area, reduce pain, and decrease inflammation.

Traditional Chinese medicine associates summer with the heart, happiness, abundance, and increased activity. As life and energy peak, take advantage of what the season has to offer. Staying smart with a few health precautions can keep you and your family safe and ensure you enjoy the warmth and joy of summer.