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Summer Safety for You and Your Kids

Sunburn continued...

If you or your child does get a sunburn, don't put ice or butter on it. Use a cold compress or a pack of frozen vegetables. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen may also be helpful. Mild and moderate cases of sunburn may be helped by topical corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone. Severe cases may require oral steroids, such as prednisone, and should be evaluated by a doctor.

Applying 80% to 90% aloe vera gels, now readily available where sunscreens are sold, can also lessen the pain of a sunburn and prevent burns from deepening if applied early. The actual juice squeezed from an aloe vera plant works the same way. This natural remedy is widely used in tropical countries around the world.

Damage from sun exposure and sunburn builds up over the years. Be on the lookout for moles that change color or size, bleed, or have an irregular, spreading edge -- all potential signs of skin cancer.

Mosquito and Tick Bites

Rob Baxley of Savage, Md., never saw the tick, but thinks he came into contact with one when he helped his brother build a deck in June 2003. "Soon after that, I noticed a little red spot on my thigh," Baxley says. "But then it grew." He estimates the rash was about the diameter of a grapefruit when he went to the emergency room in mid-July.

About 80% of people who get Lyme disease develop a large rash that looks like a bull's-eye or wheel. Baxley experienced other classic Lyme disease symptoms, such as muscle aches and stiff joints. His doctor also found a similar rash on Baxley's calf.

After a blood test confirmed Lyme disease, Baxley took an oral antibiotic followed by intravenous treatment with a second antibiotic. In addition to the physical symptoms, he also experienced depression. Baxley calls the whole experience  frustrating. "It's taken a toll on the whole family," he says.

Ticks are usually harmless. One of the biggest disease threats from tick bites is Lyme disease, which is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria are transmitted to humans by the black-legged deer tick, which is about the size of a pinhead and usually lives on deer. According to the CDC, there were about 30,000 confirmed cases of Lyme disease reported nationwide in 2009.

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