Heat, sun, insects are among the list of skin concerns during the summer. Here are a few tips to keep skin healthy and free of burns, rashes and bites this summer.
Sun protection: Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, from ultraviolet rays can damage unprotected skin in 15 minutes, and it only takes a few bad sunburns to raise the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
Choosing the right sunscreen is the first step in preventing sun damage. Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide with an SPF of 15 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied liberally enough to all sun-exposed areas that it forms a film when initially applied.
It takes 20 to 30 minutes for sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin, so it should be applied at least a half an hour before going out in the sun and be sure to re-apply often. If skin does become burned, use cool compresses to soothe and cool, anti-inflammatories to decrease inflammation, ibuprofen to help control swelling and to reduce pain and over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams to further remove the sting of the burn and the redness associated with sunburn.
A free skin cancer screening is being offered from 9 a.m. to noon, July 14 at the Isle of Palms County Park on 14th Avenue.
Bug bites: The best way to avoid an insect bite is to use repellent and try to stay away from areas where pests are found. Products with a DEET concentration of 15 to 30 percent are safe and effective for children 2 months and older, and adults, the higher the concentration, the longer the effectiveness. To avoid tick bites, avoid dense woods, fields, and brush. Mosquitoes love to hang around these areas. Ticks and chiggers are also nuisances that you can avoid by staying away from tall grass, woods, and brush and cover skin when in these areas. Treatment for most insect bites is first to remove the stinger or tick, wash with antibacterial cleanser and use hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion or baking soda. If the area becomes red and painful, see a physician.
Rashes and skin irritations: Summer activities, sun and heat increase the risk of skin rashes. There are many causes, including heat, insect bites, poisonous plants and reaction to products and medications. Whatever the cause, it can become extremely irritating and itchy if left untreated. The best treatment is to prevent the rash from occurring by protecting skin from irritants, avoiding areas prone to poison ivy and insects, and being aware of any medications that might cause photosensitivity. However, if a rash does occur, the most effective treatment is hydrocortisone. It reduces the appearance of a rash and also soothes inflammation and skin irritability. Poison ivy and oak rashes may be soothed with calamine lotion. Again, if any rash becomes worse or does not respond to treatment, consult a physician.
Employee Wellness events
- MUSC's Pitch the Pack Program: Free smoking cessation program offered to MUSC employees and students. Classes, counseling and a one-month supply of medications are available to eligible participants. Receive a success kit with enrollment filled with gifts. Enroll at http://ceii.muschealth.com/SCP/SCPRegistration.aspx.
- MUSC Urban Farm: Work & Learn. Participants can engage in hands-on learning about urban agriculture including planting and harvesting from 9 to 10 a.m., July 12, and Family Workday from 9 to 11 a.m., July 14.
- Lunch & Learn: The next Lunch & Learn will be held from noon to 1 p.m., July 12. A brief gardening or nutrition presentation will be followed by social interaction under the oak tree. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information and to register for these events. "Like" us on Facebook: "MUSC Urban Farm." Contact Susan Johnson at email@example.com to become involved in employee wellness at MUSC.