Summer means spending more time outdoors, but practice caution while hiking and camping. Poison ivy is found throughout the United States and Canada, and nothing will ruin a vacation faster than an itchy, uncomfortable rash.
What causes it? Contact with poison ivy can result in a rash. Even if it doesn't directly touch your skin, you can still pick it up from petting your dog or touching clothing that was exposed to the plant.
What prevents it? The best way to prevent poison ivy rash is to avoid the plant altogether. Familiarize yourself with what it looks like (its three leaves are a good giveaway), and try to cover up your skin when in wooded areas where the plant thrives. If you’ve been exposed to this three-leafed plant, immediately wash everything that may have come in contact with it. The oil can remain active for quite some time on fabric and other objects.
What eliminates it? Apply a cool, wet compress to relieve the itching. Add ground oatmeal or baking soda to your bathwater to ease the discomfort, or make a paste with either of these ingredients (mixed with a small amount of water) and apply it directly to the rash. Leave the rash open to the air to help it heal. Consider using a lotion with ingredients that dry up blisters and speed healing, such as calamine, alcohol, and zinc acetate. Don’t break the blisters as this may cause infection. If you are extremely uncomfortable, talk to your doctor about taking an oral antihistamine to relieve the itch but avoid the topical variety—they are not as effective and may cause a rash of their own.
If too much sun has left your skin blistered and considerably painful, seek medical attention. If the sunburn is accompanied by fever, dehydration and nausea, you could have sun poisoning.
By following these tips, you'll be ready to show some skin, all summer long!
What causes it? Whether tanning under the sun or the glow of a tanning bed, excessive exposure to the sun or ultraviolet light can cause sunburn. The skin "burns" because your body isn't able to make enough melanin to protect the skin.
What prevents it? Health experts advise against indoor tanning entirely. But when spending time outdoors, apply sunscreen regularly, wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, and limit your skin exposure to prevent sunburn from occurring.
What eliminates it? If your symptoms aren’t severe, you can treat the burn yourself with cold compresses, which help reduce the skin’s surface temperature. Apply a layer of pure aloe gel, calamine lotion (if the burn is itchy) and a gentle, non-scented lotion (to help prevent peeling). Be careful not to scratch the itchy areas as this may cause infection. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol, which can dehydrate the skin even more. If the pain is severe, ask your doctor about aspirin (not for use in children under 12), ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain medication.