Web UpdateSummer loving: Tips to save your skin from summer

Erika Schmidt
DN Staff Writer
(Daily Ne

Buzz. Sting. Slap. Itch. Sizzle. Ouch! Ah, the sounds of summer

If the sunrays don’t fry it and the mosquitoes don’t
bite it, it’s inevitable that during a picnic, the poison ivy
will attack. Is there no way to win? The elements seem poised to
ambush, but with a few tips from some experts, your skin can be
safe this summer.

Chiggers and spiders and wasps – oh my! The creepy
crawling creatures, and winged ones, can put a damper on outdoor
excursions by biting and stinging. First line of defense: Run away,
said Dr. James Guest, director of the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln Health Center. The best defense, besides covering
up with long sleeved shirts and pants and avoiding the great
outdoors is an all-purpose bug spray with DEET.

“Don’t go out looking or smelling like a
flower,” Guest said.

If stung by a bee, Guest recommended removing the stinger
without squeezing it and putting a cool compress on the site of the
sting. If you experience difficulty breathing afterwards, you may
be allergic to the venom and should get to the emergency room

After a sting of any insect, Guest recommended you watch for a
reaction, a drop in blood pressure, constricted airways or severe
allergic reaction shock. Just because there hasn’t been a
reaction in previous stings doesn’t mean that a reaction
won’t happen, he said. After a bite, Guest said making a
paste out of meat tenderizer helps neutralize the venom.

Barb Burke, a licensed practical nurse at Gateway Dermatology,
said over-the-counter cortisone sprays and creams help with the
itching welling, and redness of insect bites. If the bite is
poisonous, the redness will be extreme redness and will spread out
from the bite.

“It’d be very painful to the touch,” Burke
said. “You might be physically sick from a poisonous bite,
you might have a headache or be lethargic. You would know it was
different than a regular bug bite.”

Mosquitoes are drawn to a lot of carbon dioxide, Guest said.
Some people just attract mosquitoes from the respiration of their

Poison ivy and poison oak can cause contact dermatitis, Guest
said, which is an allergic reaction to the resin in the plants. It
can cause painful blisters and itching, he said. There is sometimes
delayed sensitivity, which means that symptoms may not break out
until days after the exposure. Extensive oral or topical steroids
can help the symptoms, Guest said.

The best way to deal with sunburns is to avoid being outside
between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on high sun index days, which occur
during the summer months in Nebraska, Guest said. If you must be
outdoors during those times, apply a sunscreen with a sun proof
factor (SPF) of 30 every two or three hours. If you work outdoors
during the summer, Guest recommended wearing clothes with a built
in sun proof factor.

Burke said that although most sunscreens block either UVA or UVB
rays, it is important to use a sunscreen that protects against

“Both types of rays are damaging. One is more long term,
the other is more short term,” she said. “Both types
are bad for skin and sun gives off both.”

An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but if you
find yourself red in the face, everything’s not lost.

“A sunburn is a burn,” Guest said, “so you
treat it like you would any other type of burn.”

For major, blistering sunburns, clean the wound if the blisters
have popped, apply antibiotic, and rinse twice a day, covering it
until a new layer of skin has been regenerated. If you’ve got
a more minor burn, you can use moisturizing lotion or aloe gel or
cool compresses. If used within 24 hours, anti-inflammatory drugs
like ibuprofen can help any degree of sunburn, Guest said. He
warned to avoid drugs like benzocaine that have numbing

“A lot of individuals have allergies to that pain
medication that make you fee a lot worse than better,” Guest
said. “They help symptomatically, but don’t make the
skin grow back any better.”

Most long-term damage to skin is done between the ages of 5 and
20 years, Burke said.

“The effects won’t show up until their 40s, 50s or
60s, and then you pay a price by having skin cancers removed, which
is what I see all day at my job,” she said.

There is no such thing as a healthy tan, she said.

“We all love to be outside, but it needs to be a routine
of applying sunscreen like brushing teeth into the daily regimen of
getting ready to go out the door.”

Next time you’re headed to a barbeque or an ultimate
Frisbee tournament, remember a smart un-glib summary and enjoy a
bite-less remnant of the summertime.

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