With the excitement of summer comes the list of supplies needed to make the season go smoothly — band-aids, elbow pads, inflatable armbands and that ritualistic sunscreen bath we put our kids through before we let them even think about stepping outside. We do it all to make sure they have the best experience for summer fun.
Our kids’ health and safety are always at the top of our minds, so it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves along the way. Chief Medical Officer for Retail Health with MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care, Dr. Mark Mariani, shares how to prevent summer injuries that can happen with adults, too, and not just kids.
One of the most common issues Dr. Mariani sees in adults during the summer season is swimmer’s ear, which is an infection of the outer ear. Swimmer’s ear symptoms include a painful feeling in your ear, redness, a possible fever, and sometimes ear drainage. “The best diagnosis in this situation is to have a provider at urgent care look into the ear with their otoscope,” he says. Treatment in this situation is eardrops prescribed by a doctor to stop the infection paired with an over-the-counter pain reliever, like ibuprofen. “Swimmer’s ear is more common in active swimming athletes,” Dr. Mariani says. “To prevent this issue from arising, they should consider using earplugs or custom-fitted swim molds, but for the casual swimmer, they should dry their ears thoroughly after getting out of the water.”
Injuries can be more common as people go outside and are more active. “Summer season is when we start to see more injuries,” Dr. Mariani says. Appropriate footwear is always essential. In the warmer months, people wearing flip-flops try to do athletic activities or do activities without the proper equipment, like riding bikes but not wearing a helmet. He urges everyone to be safe and “be smart in your activities.”
The welcoming of summer temperatures comes with the creepy crawlies who have been hiding away all winter. “Bug bites can get tricky. A weird bump on someone’s arm could be a bug bite, but sometimes it’s a staph infection that eventually turns into an abscess.” He suggests visiting with a doctor when these issues come up as they’ll be able to tell the difference between the two and treat the spot accordingly. Since summer is also tick and mosquito season, it’s best to use the proper bug sprays when doing outside activities for protection.
Another common bug issue seen during the summer is bee stings. “If someone is allergic, they should always have an epinephrine pen nearby just in case of such an emergency,” he says. “It is possible to treat bee stings at home if you feel comfortable doing that yourself.” Dr. Mariani recommends a topical treatment like a cream or lotion paired with an over-the-counter pain reliever or Benadryl. Getting the stinger out is essential, but it can be challenging, so it might be best to see a doctor if you struggle with that aspect. Dr. Mariani also added if someone gets stung and begins to have respiratory issues, then they should seek treatment right away as they could be allergic.
Handling the Heat
As far as heat illnesses that can come with high temperatures, Dr. Mariani stressed the importance of cooling down, getting out of the heat and not taking the risk in those situations. “Heat illnesses can very quickly progress to heatstroke,” Dr. Mariani says, “if you ignore it.” It’s not something that should be taken lightly because it can be extremely hard to manage when it escalates. Prevention is vital, and the best thing someone can do is to be proactive by staying hydrated and cool in the shade when possible.
Even though poison ivy isn’t as common in the Northwest as in other places, Dr. Mariani still comes across a few cases from time to time. “It mostly happens when individuals find themselves in unfamiliar places,” he says. Being aware of what it looks like is the best solution to avoiding running into the itchy plant, but if an individual does by chance cross its path, they can treat the rash with a simple calamine lotion.
A more common summertime skin issue is sunburn. “The most important thing to do is make sure to use the appropriate amount of UV protection as it is the biggest key to prevention,” he says. If one finds themselves sunburned, they can ease their pain and discomfort with a cold compress or some aloe vera lotion.
Vigilance is the key to preventing summertime ailments, Dr. Mariani says. If adults take the necessary steps while enjoying their warm-weather fun, they will have a carefree and injury-free summer. After all, isn’t that what the season is supposed to be all about?
If summertime issues do happen, MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care treats most minor illnesses and injuries with a prompt diagnosis and treatment. You can even use their online scheduler to make an appointment at the Indigo location most convenient for you.