Conquer Summer Health Conditions

By , By Woman’s Day Staff

Keep this chart handy to help prevent and treat poison ivy, Lyme disease and other seasonal ailments. From heat exhaustion and poisonous plants to Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, our friends at Woman's Day have all the details you need.

  Heat Exhaustion Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac Rash Lyme Disease West Nile Virus
Happens When You overheat. Normally, when you get hot and sweat, the sweat evaporates, moving heat from your skin into the air so you cool down. But on humid days the evaporation process slows because the air is filled with moisture, making overheating—with symptoms that include nausea, dizziness and weakness—more likely, says
Dr. Knobel.
You touch the leaves of these poisonous plants, get the oil they contain (urushiol) on your skin, and break out in a red, bumpy rash. A small percentage of people won’t react to urushiol, but there’s no way to tell beforehand, so don’t take the risk, says Larry Millikan, MD, professor emeritus of dermatology at Tulane University. You’re bitten by a tick that’s carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. These ticks are usually carried by deer and sometimes cause a red bull’s-eye–shaped rash on your skin, says Dr. Fish. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause flulike symptoms, joint pain, fatigue and a stiff neck. You’re bitten by an infected mosquito, which may cause flulike symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, joint pain and nausea, says entomologist Joe Conlon, technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association. Symptoms usually crop
up within two to 15 days after you’re bitten. People over 50 are more likely
to get sick from it because their immune systems
are weaker.
Prevent It Drink water throughout the day (don’t wait until you’re really thirsty), don’t exercise outside during the hottest part
of the day (noon to about 2-ish), and wear lightly colored loose clothing (tight outfits can trap sweat and prevent it from evaporating).
Be on the lookout for these plants. (See pictures at
). Sumac tends to grow in swamps and watery areas; poison ivy and oak in woods and open fields. All three plants typically have oval-shaped leaves found in groups of three leaves per stem, and grow close to the ground. Before a hike, consider covering any exposed skin with IvyBlock cream, which will stop urushiol from penetrating your skin.
Before venturing into woodsy areas, apply a DEET-based repellent. Keeping your lawn neatly trimmed also helps. If you live in an area that’s prone to Lyme disease (download the free Lyme Disease Tick Map app from the iTunes store), put up a fence to keep out deer. After you’ve been outdoors, check thoroughly for ticks—don’t forget areas where they can easily hide, like your scalp and underarms. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so drain kiddie pools when you’re not using them and regularly empty any barrels or containers that might fill up with rainwater. Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus any time you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period of time—especially after dusk, since that’s when mosquitoes are often out in full force.
Treat It If you start feeling nauseated, dizzy or weak, get out of the sun ASAP and place a cold compress on your forehead. Reach for a sports drink (like Gatorade) to restore electrolytes including sodium. Or drink water and eat a salty snack like pretzels. If you throw up, pass out or become disoriented, call 911; you may have heatstroke, which can be life-threatening. A topical anti-itch lotion like Itch-X or calamine lotion plus an oral antihistamine such as Benadryl or Claritin will start soothing immediately, but symptoms can
linger for up to three weeks. If the rash lasts longer or gets infected (blisters and pus are warning signs), see your doc—you may need a
prescription antibiotic.
If you find a tick, remove it ASAP. Got a suspicious rash or no rash but other symptoms? (Sometimes a tick falls off before you spot it.) Consult your doctor; you may need an antibiotic. There actually isn’t any treatment; you’ll probably get better within a few days, says Conlon. But see your doctor so he can give you a blood test for West Nile or rule out other reasons you might be sick. And if you end up with very bad symptoms (you can’t keep food down or your joints are really painful), you may need to be hospitalized so you can be monitored.

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Have you dealt with any of these summer health conditions? Do you use these prevention and treatment tips?

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I grew up in a rural area with lots of poison ivy. Something not mentioned in the article is that the oil of poison ivy can be spread by pets: my dad got poison ivy terribly on his hands from petting the hunting dogs. The watch dog, oddly enough, didn't seem to get spread the poison ivy! So if you're hiking with a dog, watch where the dog goes!

Living in an urban area, my concern is for heat exhaustion, so I walk more but slower than usual and keep hydrated, rather than trying to keep up a quick pace. Report
On the heat exhaustion! Especially for runners - don't just hydrate that day !!!! Keep well hydrated ...period. The week prior to a race - make sure you are getting your 8+ glasses of water a day! Report
I live in the Southeast and absolutely detest our hot, humid, sticky summers! I have a blood disorder/enzyme deficiency that for some unknown reason is causing me to become heat intolerant. My hematologist can only advise that it will get worse with age (lucky me) and my only option is to move to a milder climate (easier said than done)! As it stands now, even walking from my house to my car makes me sick (dizzy, nauseous, light headed). Obviously I don't work out outside during summer, I always have a large bottle of water and packs of snacks in my bag. first experience with the heat intolerance was winter in Chicago (my coat was too warm and I actually passed out). So, even in the winter I have to dress carefully and make sure I'm always a little on the cold side and avoid stores with the heat blasting! Would love to live in the Seattle area...working on making that dream a reality! Report
Here in the pacific northwest the hottest part of the day is around four or five--pefect time to go get a snack and cool off :-)
Great Advice... Heat Stroke Iz No Joke..! Report
I got poison ivy very badly one summer almost over my whole body when I was 13. I learned there's this product called Tecnu, and it's amazing. It's a preventative product as well as a treatment for P.I. Think of it like bug spray, you put it on before you go out. Rub it on your legs and arms and the medicine actually breaks down the oils from the plant and prevents the rash. Then you can just wash it all off. If you forget to put it on or didn't know about it and got some P.I. you can put it on the rash and it dries it out and soothes the itch. I definitely recommend it. Report
As a long-time hiker, I can add to the 'treatment' and 'prevention' sections - for poison oak/ivy, etc, if you are exposed to it, wash with COLD water and Fels Naptha soap - it's a hard, yellow bar found in the laundry detergent section and the ingredients in it counteract the substance in the poison oak that causes the allergic reaction.

As for ticks and mosquito bites, I take Vitamin B and Odorless Garlic supplements, which makes my skin less attractive - mosquitos are also attracted to people who eat sugar so avoiding those will help, too. Rather than put poison like Deet on my skin, I prefer to spray permethrin onto clothing or buy Bug-Off clothing which has permethrin built into the fabric. The garlic and Vitamin B supplements work for everything but heavy infestations, though, even though a lot of people don't believe it. Ask me about some backpacking trips I've been on where everyone else was fighting off mosquitos in spite of their Deet while I sat there untouched.

Another thing to consider for heat exhaustion is to make sure you eat before going out and cover your skin. Most people want to strip clothing off when it's hot but if you are in the sun, that makes heat exhaustion more likely - get shirts and pants made with 'breathable' fabrics with SPF 30+ protection instead of wearing short-shorts and tank tops - it will not only protect you from skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays, it will also help you stay cooler.

Enjoy your summer!! Report
I like it when its not 2 hot, but when it gets really hot, i get overheated, & suffer from heat exhaustion, it gets so bad that i cant go out on really hot days, withoutcarrying 2 bottles of squash/water, with me. Report
Ugh! Poison ivy a couple of times, which ruined my vacation one year. I went anyway and was miserable. I always have to get a prescription of prednisone to treat it. I was out in the woods Saturday and am now waiting to see if I have it again :( Thanks for the info on IvyBlock, I never heard of it! Report
I once stupidly wore all black during a summer midmorning run and only had 8 oz of water with me. Hello, heat exhaustion. Report
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