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Allergies Health Center

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Summer Skin Hazards to Watch For

Bug Bites

From mosquitoes to chiggers, summer insects can cause itching, swelling, and pain.

  • Avoid brushy areas and high grass. If you must go into these areas, wear long pants and sleeves, and tuck your pant legs into your socks.
  • Avoid wearing bright colors and perfume or other strong scents when you go outside.
  • Use insect repellent when you’re in wooded or brushy areas. Those with DEET or picaridin as active ingredients typically provide protection that lasts longer than others. Studies have also found that oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) provides protection similar to products with low concentrations of DEET. According to the CDC, DEET should protect you from ticks and mosquitoes. Picaridin and OLE offer some protection from mosquitoes only. Follow directions carefully.
  • Check for ticks after you’ve been outdoors.

If you get bitten, prompt treatment helps. A cold compress or ice pack will curb the swelling.

For help with itchy bites, use calamine lotion, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, or antihistamine.

Poisonous Plants

Poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can give you itchy skin and a red, blistering rash. The reaction happens when oil from these plants gets onto your skin.

The best way to prevent a rash is to learn what these plants look like and avoid them. If you do come in contact with a poisonous plant, wash your skin in warm water right away. Scrub under your fingernails so you won’t spread the oil to other parts of your body. Wash your clothes in hot water to remove the oil.

If you still come into contact with these poisonous plants and get a rash, use these tips to find relief:

  • Apply cool compresses to your skin.
  • Take a lukewarm bath using an oatmeal bath product or try adding 1 cup of baking soda to the running bath water.
  • Use calamine lotion, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, or antihistamine.

Call your doctor if you have a fever, the rash is severe or looks infected, or if the rash is on your lips, eyes, face, or genital area.

Call 911 if you have a severe reaction.

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