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Surviving Summer

Follow these safety and first-aid tips and avoid calling 911 later.

Lyme Disease Lesson

To prevent tick bites, "wear appropriate clothing when you go out -- including light-colored clothing on legs, so you can spot any ticks quickly," Pennisi says. Insect repellant is also helpful. Apply a repellent containing DEET to clothes and exposed skin, and apply permethrin (which kills ticks on contact) to clothes.

"If you do find a tick on your skin, remember that it's more of a concern when they burrow into the skin and go deep enough to reach blood vessels and draw blood," he says.

"When getting the tick out, it's important to get as much out as possible," he says, "Bring tweezers with you if you are going to be in a tick-infested area to ensure that you get as much as possible," he says.

Lyme disease is caused by the bite of a tick infected with the bacteria that cause the disease. A few days to weeks after the tick bite, a "bull's-eye" rash may appear with fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain, or a flu-like illness. It is most common during the late spring and summer months in the U.S. and occurs mostly in the northeastern and upper Midwest states.

You may want to keep the tick to show it to your doctor, since certain ticks are more likely to carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, Pennisi says.

Sun Burns and Skin Cancer

"The acute effects of sun toxicity are redness, burning, and blisters," says Lily Lai, MD, a staff surgeon at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif. Deeper burns blister and turn white or blanch when touched.

With acute sun exposure, if there are not blisters or peeling and a person is just kind of red, a good lubricating lotion will make them feel better and less irritated, but blisters may require medical attention, Lai says.

If you have had a lot of cumulative sun damage, the warning signs are wrinkles, a leathery thickness of skin, and pigmented lesions. "If you start developing irregular moles that look funny or get bigger and become more speckled and spotted, these are warnings signs of melanoma," a potentially fatal form of skin cancer, Lai says.

Other types of skin cancers may distinguish themselves by scaliness, or they may get irritated and not heal, she explains.

If you are fair skinned with a lot of sun exposure and if you have a family history of melanoma, it's a good idea to see a dermatologist and have your moles evaluated and to do regular skin self-exams, Lai suggests.

When doing skin self-exams, experts recommend the "ABCD" rule for moles.

  • A is for asymmetry. In suspicious moles, one half of the mole may not match the other half.

  • B is for border. Suspicious moles may have an irregular border.

  • C is for color. Suspicious moles may have more than one color, such as black, tan, or brown and sometimes red, white, or blue.

  • D is for diameter. A mole should be no larger than six millimeters, which is roughly the size of a pencil eraser.

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