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Summer Ailments: Bug, Burns & Rashes

At Manhattan Medical Group Walk-In Clinic, we see illnesses and injuries from A to Z. But during the summer months, some of our most frequent medical complaints are bug and spider bites, severe sunburns and encounters with poison oak and poison ivy.

Photo courtesy:

Insect bites

We recommend kids and adults alike use an insect repellent during outdoor activities to prevent bug bites. Mosquitoes, insects and spiders are most prominent in wooded areas, gardens, camping areas and near standing water.

Scented hair products, perfumes, lotions and aftershave can attract these bugs as well.

Check for ticks by scanning your hair, clothing and exposed skin after entering wooded areas or sitting or working under shade trees.

Most bug bites can be treated by washing the area clean with soap and water and applying cool compresses to reduce swelling. Antihistamines and calamine lotion can relieve itching or stinging in the bug bite areas.

When to see a medical provider:

If you think you may be having an allergic reaction to a bug bite, experience flu-like symptoms or cannot improve the bite with over-the-counter products, seek medical attention.

Lyme disease, West Nile virus and Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be carried by insects. All have symptoms similar to the flu with headaches, body and muscle aches, fever and nausea. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Severe sunburns

Soccer games, family picnics, trips to the lake — they’re all culprits for getting a sunburn. Even when we apply sunscreen, sometimes we miss a spot or stay out too long without re-applying.

Sun and clouds
Photo courtesy:

However, severe sunburns can be avoided. Avoid long sun exposure during the sun’s strongest rays between 10am and 4pm. Apply SPF 30 sunscreen or higher to exposed skin if you plan to be out in the sun for long intervals. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 60 minutes, especially if you’re also taking a dip in the lake or pool.

Wear wide-brimmed hats to cover your scalp, face and neck. Lightweight clothing with long sleeves and long pants can help cover your arms and legs and keep you cool.

Some medications can make you more sensitive to sunlight and more prone to sunburns. Talk to your medical provider or pharmacist if you have questions about sensitivity to sunlight, particularly if you work outdoors in the summer.

Sunburns can be treated by applying aloe or using home remedies such as a milk bath to soothe the skin.

When to see a medical provider:

If you experience fever, headaches, severe pain or blisters covering most of the area of your burn, seek medical attention. If the heat and pain of the burn do not subside after a few days, you may want to seek medical care.

A significant number of sunburns in your lifetime could lead to skin damage and diseases including dark spots and melanoma. Talk to your primary care provider if you notice changes in your skin and have a history of prolonged sun exposure.

Poison ivy, oak and sumac

Poison ivy, oak and sumac are plants that carry urushiol, an oil that can be irritating to skin. These plants are commonly found near lakes, rivers, campsites, trails, gardens and other wooded areas.

Poison ivy
Photo courtesy: K-State Research & Extension

Urushiol can produce an itchy rash and lead to contact dermatitis after contact directly with the plant or indirectly with other tools, material or even animals that have been exposed to the plant.

You can avoid exposure to these plants by wearing long sleeves, long pants, socks and shoes in wooded areas where you suspect them to grow. Identify the plants and remove them from areas around your home.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, experts estimate 3 out of 4 people are sensitive to these plants but with varying degrees of sensitivity.

Calamine lotion and cool compresses can help treat poison ivy, oak and sumac.

When to see a medical provider:

If you experience swelling, especially in facial features, or have trouble swallowing or breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

Allergic reactions to urushiol are diagnosed based on symptoms and the rash’s appearance.

If you experience a bite, burn or rash this summer and need to seek medical attention, visit MMG Walk-In Clinic during our business hours: 9:30am-6pm Monday through Friday.


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