The Sting of Summer: Be Prepared, From Bites to Burns

Lyme's Disease: Beware the Bull's Eye

A bite from a tick is usually not felt and will not itch, but if the tick is a carrier for Lyme disease, the resulting infection can be severe. The Northeast and upper Michigan are high risk areas for contracting Lyme disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but ticks can be found in other regions of the U.S. as well. The easiest way to diagnose Lyme disease is by the red ring rash that often, but not always, accompanies a bite by a tick with Lyme. The "bull's-eye rash" will develop three to 30 days after a bite and will be accompanied by fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, according to the CDC.

If you remove a tick from you and experience these symptoms following (even without the rash), see a doctor to get tested for Lyme disease, doctors say, because if not treated with antibiotics, Lyme can cause neurological, joint and cardiac problems over time, says Dr. Korman of U.H. Case Medical Center.

To avoid getting bit, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through high brush. Also, check the body for ticks after hiking, especially warm areas such as scalp, groin and armpits.

Rash Reaction

Rashes can result for a number of reasons -- from an allergic reaction to fabric to a poisonous plant. The most common rashes seen by doctors during the summer are heat rash, swimmer's itch and rashes from poisonous plants such as poison ivy, sumac and oak.

Swimmer's itch consists of many small, itchy, slightly painful red bumps that are usually noticed following a swim in the ocean. Usually, the rash is just another form of a jellyfish sting and results when microscopic jellyfish larva get caught in the fabric of one's swimsuit, says Schmidt. Swimmer's itch can also be caused by other parasites present in fresh or saltwater. The rash is benign and can be treated with topical hydrocortisone cream but will otherwise go away on its own, doctors say.

Heat rash is not from contact with any plant or animal but merely the product of skin irritation in damp or sandy conditions, such as wearing a wet bathing suit over an extended period of time. The red, raised, itchy bumps are sometimes referred to as "prickly heat" and occur when the sweat glands become clogged, says Korman.

Rashes from poison oak, poison ivy or poison sumac are par for the course for summertime excursions into wooded areas, and while annoying, are usually not serious. Approximately 85 percent of the population will develop an allergic reaction if exposed to poison ivy, oak or sumac, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

The itchy, blistering rash usually develops 12 to 72 hours after exposure and can be treated with calamine lotion and time. If swelling becomes serious, affects breathing and causes eyes to swell shut, seek medical attention immediately.

For more information on where different poison plants can be found and how to identify them, visit the American Academy of Dermatology's website.

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