Summer in the Lowcountry is perfect for beaching, boating and surfing – but if you’re not careful, you could end up needing medical attention. Before heading out on a summer day, learn when you should seek medical care for yourself or for loved ones who’ve enjoyed a little too much summer sun.
Sunburns are a common occurrence. Mild, superficial sunburns can often be managed at home. Take time out of the sun and use over-the-counter antiinflammatory medications. Topical cooling methods – such as sprays and lotions – may help. But seek medical care if your skin is blistering or peeling, or if a large area of your body is burned. These more severe burns can also lead to dehydration, heatstroke or heat exhaustion. Remember to apply sunscreen before heading outdoors to help prevent burns and skin cancer.
Dehydration and heat-related illnesses can develop quickly when people are enjoying outdoor activities. To prevent problems, hydrate well during the day, wear protective hats and clothing, and limit activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
It is important to drink water or sports drinks every 15 to 20 minutes while in the heat. Avoid or limit drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include muscle cramps, heavy sweating, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and dark colored urine. If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, move to a cool area, sip on water, rest with your feet elevated, apply cool towels to your skin or take a cool bath. If symptoms do not improve within 30 minutes, seek medical care. If your temperature reaches 104 degrees, call 911 for immediate medical attention.
Jellyfish, stingrays and oyster shells, oh my! Trauma from marine animals can happen along the waterways of the Lowcountry. The jellyfish stings of the South Carolina coast are typically painful, but not life-threatening. Rinsing the sting with household vinegar is the treatment of choice. If pain lingers, visit a medical provider.
Trauma and wounds from stingrays and oyster shells require medical attention. Wounds must be thoroughly cleaned, and you will need antibiotics. You’ll also need a tetanus immunization if you’re not up to date.
Enjoy the beauty and nature of the Lowcountry, but never hesitate to seek medical advice when nature bites back!
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