With summer fun often comes summer fouls. Here's how to sidestep some top seasonal ailments so you can savor your summer days. By Janis Graham & Lauren Le Vine, REDBOOK.
Heat-related ailmentsYeast Infections
Why now? Yeast thrives in warm, dark, moist environments - such as the snug, damp crotch of a wet bathing suit. Infections can also be triggered by deodorant tampons, which many women use more frequently during swim season. "The perfumes in tampons alter the balance of bacteria inside the vagina that keep yeast growth in check," says Pamela G. Rockwell, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. An itchy, burning sensation in your vagina and a cottage cheese-like discharge are signs of infection.
What to do: Slip into something dry after swimming or exercising and wear loose underwear made of cotton or Coolmax, materials that wick perspiration away and keep you dry. And switch to fragrance-free tampons to keep your bacteria balance in check. If you do get a yeast infection, an over-the-counter (OTC) remedy, such as Monistat, should clear it up in three days; see your doctor if symptoms persist.
Poison Oak & Poison Ivy
Why now? Well, you don't exactly go venturing into the woods bare-legged in the winter, now do you? Also, per Dr. Eliaz, reactions tend to be worse in the summer because the heat makes pores open and allows the oils to spread more easily, which is why cold water rinses - rather than a hot shower - are important after exposure.
Related: 25 Lazy Ways to Stay Skinny
What to do: "These plants are rich in oils that produce allergic reactions in many people," Dr. Eliaz says. "Reactions are typically seen in the form of an oozing rash, itching, redness, and swelling, and can range from mild to life threatening, depending on the person. Treatments can include topical creams containing zinc oxide and ferric oxide such as the classic calamine lotion, which helps to reduce itching and also acts as a mild astringent to prevent spreading, reduce infection, and dry out the rash." If a severe allergic reaction occurs; however, emergency medical attention is necessary.
Why now? Unless you're Missy Franklin, chances are you don't spend nearly as much time in the pool the other 3/4 of the year. But to get a little more technical: "Swimmer's ear is caused when water enters the ear canal and gets trapped by excess ear wax, temporarily reducing hearing. It can also cause inflammation and swelling and may lead to ear infection in more serious cases," Dr. Eliaz explains.
What to do: Eliaz recommends a gentle method that can provide relief for both adults and children suffering from swimmer's ear. Apply an antiseptic softening agent to the ear - he recommends tea tree oil, grapefruit seed oil, garlic-infused olive oil, or a mixture of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar. Then, lie sideways to allow the mixture to sit in the ear for a few minutes before gently flushing it out with a large, warm water-filled syringe.
Related: 10 Beauty Mistakes You're Probably Making
Why now? Summer heat and humidity are heaven for mosquitos and their blood-thirsty friends, and since we're all spending more time outside, we're ripe for the biting.
What to do: The same topical treatments for poison oak and poison ivy can also help draw out the poison and reduce the inflammation and itching from bug bites. Dr. Eliaz also recommends calendula balm, arnica cream, aloe vera, and other topical ointments to help soothe the skin and reduce pain and inflammation.
Related: Fall Shoe-spiration: 100 Must-Buy Shoes
Why now? Per Dr. Eliaz, heat rash is a reddish rash usually caused when sweat ducts are blocked by constrictive clothing. The ducts swell and can become itchy, but in prolonged cases, it can lead to a more serious infection and may spread to lymph nodes or other areas.
What to do: For starters, wear loose clothing that allows skin to breathe. If you see a rash developing, get out of the sun, remove clothing, and let skin air-dry. The same topical treatments for bug bites and poison ivy can be used to treat heat rash. Eliaz also suggests Chinese herbs such as Ce Bai Ye (Platycladus orientalis), as well as menthol and camphor to cool the area, reduce pain, and decrease inflammation.
Find fixes for five more common summer health issues at Redbookmag.com.
More from REDBOOK:
9 Health Risks That Aren't Worth Taking
- 5 New Summer Sangria Recipes
The Best Hairstyles for Your Age
- 9 Little Gestures He Wishes You'd Do
- How to Get Busy When You're Busy