Over the Fourth-of-July weekend, most of us will be participating in outdoors activities and joining summer festivities. With outside fun comes the risk of scraped knees, dermatitis, insect bites or heat rash. Here are four rescue tips for summer skin emergencies, so you and your family can enjoy a safe and worry-free holiday.
Kids and grownups alike are hopping on their bikes, buckling on their skates, and even bouncing around on pogo sticks! With all of this activity comes the inevitable dangers of tumbles, bumps, and bruises and scrapes.
Your holiday rescue: The first step in dealing with an abrasion is to determine if there are any other injuries. If there is a head injury, loss of consciousness, confusion, or limited ability to move a limb, call for emergency help. If the scrape appears minor, let a small amount of bleeding continue: this can help to clean out any embedded dirt or asphalt from within the wound! Wash the site gently but thoroughly with mild soap and water. If there is any debris identified within the wound, use sterile tweezers to remove it.
There is no need to use hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or iodine to clean the site. Mild soap and water is sufficient! Apply an antibiotic ointment and a nonstick bandage to the surface of the wound. The wound should be washed at least once daily and the ointment and bandage reapplied until the wound has healed.
A moisture barrier dressing (such as Tegaderm) or a colloidal dressing (such as Band-Aid Advanced Healing Blister Cushion) can be used after a few days. These have the advantage of being comfortable and flexible and can remain in place for several days at a time, even in the shower or other wet environments. Learn more about wound care.
Be careful of squeezing that lime into your margarita or other festive summer libation! Limes contain plant compounds called furocoumarins that are intensely sun sensitizing. Contact with lime juice followed by UV light exposure (from the sun) results in a painful, sometimes blistering rash, also known as phytophotodermatitis. The rash often appears in odd drip-like patterns or fingerprints on the skin, and it can leave behind a deep discoloration that can take months to fade.
Your holiday rescue: Thoroughly wash your hands after squeezing or handling limes and before heading out into the sun. Apply sunscreens copiously and regularly to protect your skin from the ultraviolet light rays that cause the dermatitis. Cool compresses, and topical steroid creams can be useful for any discomfort from blistering, and prescription bleaching agents may improve the resultant discoloration.
Stinging insects are unwelcome guests to festive cookouts and fireworks viewing. Bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and fire ants can sting and produce localized pain, swelling, itch and redness.
Your holiday rescue: Keep food covered, because stinging insects can be attracted to food and beverages and climb into picnic containers. Avoid bright clothing and walking barefoot in the grass. If you are stung, keep an eye out for symptoms that may require more urgent medical attention, such as hives or itching at other sites of the body, shortness of breath, lip or tongue swelling, dizziness or feeling faint. Call for emergency help if any of these symptoms are present.
If you are stung, remove the stinger. A flat firm object like a credit card, or your fingernail can be scraped across the site to flick it out. Clean the area gently, and apply a cold compress or ice, which is a quick way to relieve inflammation. A hydrocortisone cream and an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, can also reduce swelling and irritation.
As the temperatures rise, heat rash (aka prickly heat) can develop in skin folds or where clothing covers the skin. The sweat ducts become blocked, and tiny, itchy dots develop in the skin folds or where elastic bands from clothing rub.
Your holiday rescue: Get cool! Seek air conditioned comfort, and if that isn’t possible, a cool washcloth pressed to affected areas can help. Hydrocortisone cream is also helpful for the itchiness! Avoid tight clothing and occlusive fabrics, such as polyester, as these can worsen the eruption.
If you have any doubt regarding a wound, signs of dermatitis, an insect bite or a heat rash, call your dermatologist or contact Skincare Physicians.
Have a happy and safe July 4th!
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