Tip Sheet: Treating Minor Summer Injuries

Instead of following old wives' tales, try these tips to treat the dings and scrapes of summer.

From the WebMD Archives

Summer, with all the cooking, hiking, camping, sports, and travel, provides limitless opportunities for allergies and injuries. A quick guide to dealing with summertime mishaps:

A burn is not a bun -- don't butter it. According to Richard O'Brien, MD, an emergency physician at the Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pa., you should run cold water on the burned area for at least 10 minutes, then apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. If it hurts, put a cloth bandage on and a cold, dry compress, like a bag of frozen vegetables. Butter just adds germs and foreign proteins.

Pinch your nose, don't throw your head back, to stop a nosebleed. Press the fleshy part of your nose below where your glasses sit and hold it for 10 minutes by the clock. Don't keep checking to see if it stopped yet -- it may not have. Then you have to start over.

Don't pull large embedded objects out of your flesh. If it's a splinter, that's one thing. But you may want an emergency physician to remove a thorn, barb from a fence, fish hook, nail, or other large objects. A tetanus shot may be needed.

Clean cuts and scrapes with water and soap and bandage lightly. The old air-dry philosophy is losing favor. Bandaged cuts are less likely to be reopened. If a cut will not stop bleeding, seek medical attention. Peroxide, by the way, may slow the healing process. Stick with soap and water or just plain water. Smear on antibiotic cream and cover.

If you twist a joint, apply cold if there is swelling. If swelling persists for days or even weeks, consult a doctor. If you cannot stand or walk, you should also seek attention.

Put cool compresses on sunburn. Some people use vinegar and water, but this is not recommended. Put on cold compresses; to pull more heat from the skin, try something like Noxzema cream. To calm the irritation, take ibuprofen unless forbidden by your doctor.

Don't squeeze a bee sting to get the stinger out. If the bee has left the stinger behind, as evidenced by blackish particles on the skin, try scraping these off with a credit card. Do not squeeze the stinger or venom still in the sac may get into your system. If you have trouble breathing, call 911. Allergies to bee stings can be fatal.


If you get a snakebite, do not suck the wound. Never try to get the blood flowing from a snakebite and don't suck or suction it. Don't run; loosen clothing, remove rings, and get to a hospital ASAP.

If you get motion sickness, try to find a still place or get out of the moving vehicle. Don't drink or you will vomit the fluid. As you recover, a cracker and water or ginger ale can help. If you take Dramamine, don't drive.

If you get poison ivy, don't worry, no one can catch it from you. Even scratching it will not spread it once the poisonous oil is washed from your hands. Apply calamine lotion and if you are not driving, take an antihistamine like Benadryl.

If you get a chemical in your eye, wash it out for 15 minutes. If it's still painful, seek medical attention. Never use a piece of meat on a black eye or on an injured eye -- it only introduces more bacteria. Try a bag of frozen veggies instead.

WebMD Feature


Published June 13, 2005.

SOURCES: Richard O'Brien, MD, emergency physician, Moses Taylor Hospital, Scranton, Pa. Jim Thornton, MA, head trainer, Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Clarion, Pa. American College of Emergency Physicians.
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