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PREVEN TION Protecting Against Summertime Hazards Can Increase Fun in the Sun Fun in the sun puts exposed skin at risk for burns, bites and bee stings. But by taking some precautions, these warm- weather hazards don’t have to ruin a good time. When Shawn Chaikin, DO, a UCLA primary-care physician in Marina del Rey, ventures outdoors in the summer months, he reaches for a sunscreen with a sun- protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. “Everyone, regardless of skin tone and ethnicity, benefits from sun protection,” Dr. Chaikin says. “The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays make all of us more susceptible to skin cancer, sunburn and premature aging.” Dr. Chaikin recommends applying a generous amount of sunscreen — enough to fill the palm of one’s hand — at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and to reapply every two hours, or more frequently if one is swimming or sweating. Applying sunscreen properly is particularly important if one is taking certain medications, such as tetracycline for acne, which make skin prone to burning. Sun-protective clothing is another good option. Dr. Chaikin suggests dark-colored, tightly-woven fabrics or clothing with an ultraviolet protective factor (UPF) of 25 or higher, which is designed to block the sun. By comparison, a white cotton T-shirt blocks only about 7 percent of UV rays. If one does burn, anti-inf lammatory medicine like ibuprofen can soothe the pain. “It works best if you take it within 24 hours of noticing the redness,” Dr. Chaikin says. Moist, cold compresses and moisturizers with aloe also help. See a doctor if the sunburn is severe, with blistering, fever, headache, nausea or chills, he says. Bugs are another bane of outdoor fun. Pants and long-sleeve shirts are great bug barriers, and Dr. Chaikin recommends against wearing scented lotions, perfumes or bright clothing, which can attract bees. If a bee does sting, use the blunt edge of a credit card to scrape out the stinger. A moist, cold compress and hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion can help to reduce swelling and pain, as will an anti-inflammatory medicine. About 10 percent of people develop a large, local reaction to a sting, Dr. Chaikin notes. “The area may swell over a day or two and then slowly disappear within a week.” If a severe allergic reaction occurs, including difficulty breathing, it is important to administer epinephrine immediately. “People who have severe allergic reactions to bee venom should carry epinephrine syringes and seek immediate medical attention if stung,” he says. To keep mosquitoes at bay, use insect repellants made with DEET or picaridin, or wear clothing treated with a mosquito- repelling chemical called permethrin. For a more natural alternative, Dr. Chaikin suggests trying bug sprays made with lemon eucalyptus oil. Scratching a mosquito bite might provide temporary relief, but Dr. Chaikin warns that it can expose the area to infection. Instead, stop the itch by applying cold compresses and hydrocortisone cream and by taking an over-the-counter antihistamine. Be Water Wise There’s no better way to beat the heat than by taking a dip in a pool, ocean or lake. But it is important to be aware of the risks. Drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of accidental death among children. Protect your family with these water safety tips: Raise a swimmer. Start swim lessons for children as soon as you feel they are ready to take the plunge. Be mindful that even the best swimmers can still get into difficulty in the water. Buddy up. Make sure your child never swims alone, and choose swim locations that have lifeguards. Stay alert. Always stay within arm’s reach of young children. Designate an adult to keep an eye on older kids and make sure they are the focus — not a cell phone or book. Heed warning signs. Never swim or dive in prohibited areas. There may be strong currents, riptides, rocks or other hidden dangers. Learn CPR. Enroll in a CPR class in your community. If you rescue someone from the water, call 911 immediately and begin hands-only CPR (no mouth-to-mouth breaths). Shawn Chaikin, DO LAW Vital Signs Summer 2016 Vol. 71 3