Summer is the season everyone looks forward to. The weather is warmer, we can wear shorts and be outside without coats. And there are plenty of fun activities to do during the long days.
With everyone wearing short sleeves and shorts, not to mention spending days at the beach, a little precaution needs to be exercised. All types of burns can happen in the summer, from a sunburn to a child grabbing the remains of a firework, not realizing it’s still hot, to brushing a bare leg accidentally against a hot motorcycle engine.
Most of us have heard the precautions against sunburn. American Cancer Society recommends the Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap! method of prevention, which is slipping on a shirt, slop on a broad-spectrum sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher, slap on a hat and wrap on the sunglasses before heading outdoors.
Severe sunburns which lead to blistering can also cause other medical problems such as dehydration and a person’s electrolytes being messed up. Seeking medical help for this type of sunburn is a good idea.
Basal cell or squamous cell cancers develop on sun exposed skin and depending on the type, they can be fast or slow growing, but rarely spread. Melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, is curable when detected early, but it can spread and it causes the most skin cancer deaths.
Other types of burns that occur in the summer can occur with camp fires, fireworks or on motorcycles. When these types of burns happen, immediate treatment is important.
Tony Doyle, a paramedic with Multi-Township EMS, said one thing people should not do when another has a burn is pop any blisters that occur from the burn. He recommended keeping the burned area clean. “Good old fashioned soap and water goes a long way,” he said. “You don’t want to increase the risk of infection.”
If you are dealing with someone who has received a burn from a firework or some other type of fire, “personal safety is number one,” Doyle said. He stressed making sure everyone is safe before attempting to deal with the burn. The best way to cool the skin is with tepid water. Do not use ice as it can damage the skin underneath the burn.
A lotion with aloe or some kind of gel that has cooling properties will also help. Doyle pointed out burns hurt, so for minor burns, an over the counter pain reliever is also a good idea. “That’s one of our biggest missions (with more serious burns) is pain control,” Doyle said.
With any type of burn, size matters and degree matters. If a burn blisters it could be a second or third degree burn and requires medical attention, especially if the burned area goes around a limb. Doyle explained such a burn can cause compression syndrome, which is swelling that prevents blood from flowing through the limb.
“If a burn is the size of a hand, it should be seen by a doctor,” Doyle said. If a burn turns white but doesn’t hurt, it’s best to go to the emergency room. Chances are this type of burn has not only damaged the skin, but also the nerves in the immediate area.
So when it comes to being outdoors in these summer days, be smart when it comes to the sun and while doing other activities.