Summer is coming and so are our favorite outdoor activities. When spending time outdoors, it’s important to take all necessary precautions, including protecting yourself from harmful plants and insects. Below, Nikki Pham, MD, primary care physician at Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group, shares tips on how to safely enjoy the outdoors this summer.
Insect bites are not only annoying, but can also cause infections and diseases. dr. Pham warns that certain insect bites can lead to health problems if left untreated.
According to the CDC, Lyme disease is often highest during the summer months and is caused by bacteria carried by tick bites. Ticks can attach themselves to any part of the human body, but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits and scalp.
“The sooner the tick can be removed, the better,” says Dr. pham. “The longer it is incarcerated, the greater the risk of contracting Lyme disease.”
Adults and children with tick bites can usually be treated with a single dose of antibiotics within 72 hours of the tick bite to prevent the development of Lyme disease.
Early signs of Lyme disease to look out for include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and a circular rash at the site of the tick bite.
If you are bitten by a tick while traveling or far from your Dignity Health doctor, consider a virtual visit. Video visits allow your doctor to answer questions digitally and even prescribe medications, so you get the care you need everywhere.
Fortunately, Lyme disease can be prevented by taking precautions such as avoiding wooded and brushy areas with tall grass, spraying clothing and equipment with bug spray containing 0.5% permethrin, and examining yourself, your clothes and your pets for the presence of ticks after you have been outside.
Poison oak is one of the most common plants that cause allergic reactions, according to Dr. pham. Others can be poison ivy and poison ivy, all of which can cause a red, blister-like rash to appear on the skin within a few days of contact. The CDC has a visual guide from the CDC to help identify plants to avoid.
If anyone suspects they are having an allergic reaction to a plant, Dr. Pham to seek medical attention and wash the area immediately. Treatments for poisonous plant exposure may include topical application of calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and blistering, in addition to over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl to relieve itching.