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How to Avoid Summer's Health Woes

Experts explain strategies for preventing 6 common maladies from ruining your summer fun.

Mosquito Bites

While mosquito bites used to be little more than annoying and itchy bumps on your arm or behind your ear, now we have even more reason to avoid them with things like West Nile virus and Triple E (Eastern equine encephalitis) making headlines.

How to avoid it. Your attack against a mosquito bite is three-pronged, according to the CDC's web site: "Use insect repellent, particularly those with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; wear as much clothing as the warm weather will allow; and avoid the outdoors during dusk and dawn -- peak biting times."

Warning signs. Mosquito bites will appear as red, raised bumps on your skin. Worse, they'll itch.

What to do. Mosquito bites usually go away in less than a week, according to the web site of the University of Maryland Medical Center. In the meantime, you can wash the area and keep it clean, use an ice pack or a cool compress to alleviate itching, take an antihistamine, or use an anti-itching cream, such as calamine lotion.

Nearly 80% of people infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. If you start to experience symptoms like fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back, according to the CDC's web site, see your doctor. There's a chance these could be symptoms of West Nile virus.

Swimmer's Ear

Swimmer's ear is a kid's nightmare when summer finally arrives.

"Just like when your fingers get pruney when you're in the water too long, the same thing happens to your ears," says Galier.

When you swim, or even shower or bathe, water can get trapped in your ear canal, causing the canal to get inflamed and infected.

How to avoid it. Gone are the days of Silly Putty in your ears. Now it's simply wax ear plugs, or custom-fit ear plugs, explains Galier, to prevent swimmer's ear.

Warning signs. "The symptoms of swimmer's ear are ear pain and decreased hearing," says Galier.

You might also experience, according to the web site of the American Academy of Otolaryngology, a sensation that the ear is full, fever, or swollen lymph nodes.

What to do. "Treating swimmer's ear requires a prescription," says Galier. "You need to see your doctor."

Sunburns

There's nothing worse than a sunburn in the summer. It hurts, it looks funny, and it means you have to stay inside until it gets better -- or go outside in the hot summer sun fully clothed to protect your burnt-to-a-crisp skin. Why does the sun cook us like a strip of bacon? According to the CDC's web site, "Sunlight consists of infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, and ultraviolet light consists of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. The UVA rays cause tanning and wrinkling, while UVB rays cause sunburn, aging, wrinkling, and skin cancer."

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