How-to Avoid Summer Health Hazards

SWIMMERS EAR

Swimmers ear (also called otitis externa) is an ear canal infection caused by bacteria or Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.38.28 AMfungi. More common in children than adults, it’s responsible for well over two million healthcare visits each year. As the name suggests, swimmers ear plagues those who spend time in the water. When water stays in the ear canal for long periods of time, it provides the perfect environment for bacterial growth. Infection follows, causing mild to intense ear pain.

HOW TO BEAT IT: 

• Tilt your head to the side to drain water
after swimming.

• Gently wipe your ears with a towel after
swimming.

• Use a blow dryer to remove moisture after
swimming. Put it on the lowest heat and speed/
fan setting and hold it at least a foot away from
your earto avoid damage.

• Use over-the-counter drops with acetic acid to treat
mild infections.

• See a doctor if the problem persists. He or she can prescribe
a topical antibiotic or steroid.

YEAST INFECTION

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by candida, a fungus always present in the body. A woman’s body usually does a great job maintaining a balance between the good bacteria and candida, but that can change in summertime. Why? Lounging by the beach in your wet bathing suit creates the perfect moist environment for candida and can trigger a yeast infection. Pool chemicals can also alter the body’s pH, creating ideal conditions for an infection.

HOW TO BEAT IT: 

• Swap your suffocating spandex for comfy cotton panties.
Cotton lets the skin breathe, keeping it dry.

• After swimming, rinse off with tap water to remove bacteria or
pool chemicals. Don’t sit around in your wet bathing suit!

• If you work out in the heat, remove your workout clothes as soon
as you’re done and put on fresh, dry ones.

• Steer clear of scented products. Many contain chemicals and
perfumes that mess with your pH levels.

• Change your tampon regularly.

• Avoid douching.

 

RECREATIONAL WATER ILLNESS 

If you go swimming this summer, you may be at risk of contracting a recreational water illness (RWI). RWIs are caused by pesky germs that make their way into your body through contact with contaminated water (usually swallowing). Most RWIs cause gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea. The most common one is caused by a parasite called Cryptosporidium, which can survive in chlorinated water for up to 10 days.

HOW TO BEAT IT: 

• Avoid warm, stagnant bodies of water.

• Don’t swallow water when you go swimming.

• Check your pool for proper chlorine and pH levels.

• If you’re sick – especially with diarrhea – stay out of the water.

• Shower with soap and tap water before swimming to keep your germs
to yourself.

• Shower again after swimming to wash off germs acquired during
your swim.

• Remember: friends don’t let friends pee in the pool.

 

FOOD POISONING 

Nothing brings people together like a July barbecue, but food and warm temperatures aren’t always a great mix. The CDC estimates that one in six Americans (or 48 million people) get sick from eating contaminated food every year. Food poisoning is more common in summer for two main reasons. First, bacteria multiply faster in warmer weather and can grow in perishable foods within two hours. Second, in summer we are more likely to cook outside away from refrigerators and washing facilities.

summerh_1Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.42.48 AMHOW TO BEAT IT:

• When traveling, use separate coolers for drinks and refrigerated foods.
Opening and closing the food cooler can raise the temperature.

• Practice good hand hygiene – wash your hands before and after every
meal and before and after handling raw meat.

• Keep raw meat wrapped and sealed to avoid contaminating other
foods. Also, ensure it is properly cooked.

• Don’t leave food out for hours on end and graze at your leisure.
Eat while the food is hot or cold and store immediately when
finished.

• Serve cold foods in small portions and keep the rest in the cooler.

 

ACNE 

Heat and humidity trigger our skin to produce more oil, which can clog pores and set the stage for bacteria. Add sweat and dirt into the mix, and you have the perfect recipe for more pimples during the summer months. Prevention is much more effective than treatment, so take extra precautions when the weather is warm.

HOW TO BEAT IT: 

• Amp up your skincare routine. Start with a gentle, exfoliating cleanser, follow up with a toner, and finish with a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide.

• Instead of using a washcloth or your hands to wash your face, use a brush to deep clean your pores.

• When you exercise, use a towel to wipe away sweat. Shower immediately when you finish.

• Steer clear of products with irritants like citrus extracts, menthol, and denatured alcohol.

ATHLETE’S FOOT (OR OTHER FUNGUS) 

The fungi that cause athlete’s foot thrive in the summer when the weather is warm and the spaces between your toes grow moist with sweat. It also grows in public places where people tend to walk barefoot (e.g., pool deck, locker room floor, boardwalk, camp ground, shower stall, etc.).

HOW TO BEAT IT:

• Shake things up a bit and don’t wear the same shoes every day. Alternate between two pairs so each pair has an opportunity to dry.

• Wear cotton socks instead of socks made from synthetic materials. If they get wet, change them right away.

• Wash your feet with soap after sports or exercise and every time you shower or take a bath.

• Apply foot powder to keep your feet dry and keep fungus at bay.

• Keep your feet moisturized. Cracking skin is more susceptible to infection.

HEAT RASH 

Caused by clogged sweat ducts, a heat rash is a skin rash that appears when a person is hot or sweating a lot. The rash can feel itchy and look like a cluster of small pimples or tiny bubbles under the skin. Heat rash is a common complaint during the summer months when sweat, sun, and bacteria mix to create the perfect conditions for skin inflammation. It most often shows up on the face, neck, chest, or anywhere the skin rubs together (like the armpit).

summerh_2HOW TO BEAT IT:

• Avoid sweating and prolonged exposure to heat and humidity.

• Wear lightweight, loose clothing—cotton is preferable. Dress appropriately for the weather so you don’t get too hot.

• Take frequent cool baths or showers.

• Treat symptoms with lotion and/or steroid creams.

• Seek medical attention if you have a fever or think
you might have an infection.

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