3 Common Beach Myths—Debunked

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By: , – Abigail L. Cuffey, Woman's Day
6/27/2011 2:00 PM   :  10 comments   :  6,599 Views

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Before you jump into the pool less than an hour after eating, you may want to read this. Below, the experts weigh in on whether it’s OK to go straight from noshing to swimming, plus two other popular beachtime beliefs.

“Jellyfish sting? Pee on it!”

False. The notion behind this old wives’ tale—that you need something to neutralize the painful jellyfish toxin—is correct, but urine doesn’t work. The best remedy, according to the Red Cross, is to soak the wound in vinegar, rubbing alcohol or a combination of baking soda and seawater (don’t use drinking water, which can activate the toxins and increase the pain). Don’t rub the wound, either (that will spread the toxin). Call 911 if you have a history of allergic reactions or if you start to have trouble breathing.

“Getting a base tan before vacation will protect you from a sunburn.”

False. Any tan is a sign of sun damage. Plus, “having a base tan is barely the equivalent of wearing SPF 4,” so it won’t do much to prevent a burn, says D’Anne Kleinsmith, MD, spokes woman for the American Academy of Dermatology. The best way to avoid turning lobster-red? Lather on a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply at least every two hours.

“Don’t swim after you eat or you’ll get cramps.”

Partially true. If you just devoured a large meal, then wait at least 30 minutes, says Laura Knobel, MD, a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Here’s why: After you eat, your body sends more blood to the digestive tract to help break down food, meaning there’s less blood being diverted to the muscles you need to swim. Only had a light snack? Feel free to dive right in.

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Comments

  • CYNNANE
    10
    I never believed one nor three, but wasn't sure about two as I am pasty white and never tan. :) - 6/29/2011   5:34:49 PM
  • 9
    This was a good blog. Thanks for the information. - 6/28/2011   5:23:10 PM
  • 8
    Been stung by jellyfish twice and it hurts! But I would never try to alleviate the pain with urine, yuck! I agree with WOLFSPIRITMOM about the tanning. I never burn and very seldom use sunscreen unless I am at the beach. I'm not outside long enough to apply it. I think people know their own skin and if you are someone who burns then use the sunscreen. I know that it also prevents aging skin, wrinkles and protects you from the harmful rays, but I choose not to use it. - 6/28/2011   4:30:10 PM
  • 7
    Don't believe the tanning thing. I have a base tan and I never get burnt. It probably depends where you live and I am up in Canada so the sun isn't as strong as near the Equator. - 6/28/2011   1:05:19 PM
  • 6
    Not really, I was actually skeptical of them all. But that's just my nature :) - 6/28/2011   12:05:45 PM
  • 5
    I love going to Pensacola Beach, but Jelly Fish are the pits. Overfishing takes away the fish who live on JF, so they then over populate. Not good. The food-chain has its purpose. - 6/27/2011   4:33:07 PM
  • 4
    I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree. I grew up on the Pacific Ocean, and while jellyfish weren't a big problem, occasionally they would be a concern. Vinegar is an acid that helps neutralize the sting. Urine is a milder acid, and since you don't usually carry vinegar (or baking soda) around with you at the beach, urine can temporarily help neutralize the sting. From experience, urine is a good way to "temporarily" alleviate pain until you can get something else. - 6/27/2011   4:19:39 PM
  • 3
    Most people do not swim in the ocean, they wade. If you are not swimming, you can go in immediately after eating assuming you do not try to consume an American-style Thanksgiving dinner just before. - 6/27/2011   3:40:55 PM
  • 2
    I grew up on Tybee Island, of the coast of Georgia, and I can tell you that urinating on a jellyfish sting is ludicrous! We always used vinegar!
    Real islaners are NOT sun-worshippers, and no, we do not swim until an hour after a meal! - 6/27/2011   2:46:32 PM
  • 1
    great blog thanks - 6/27/2011   2:37:59 PM

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