Sting of Summer: Protect Yourself from Bites and Burns

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Sun Burn vs. Sun Poisoning

We all know we should be wearing sunscreen, but sunburns still happen. The question is, when is a sunburn more than just an aloe-vera-and-sit-in-the-shade-for-a-few-days type of affair?

When sunburn is severe, causes blisters or covers a large part of the body, it can result in sun poisoning; an extension of heat stroke that is marked by dehydration, fever and headache.

Sunburn is a form of inflammation, so when a significant area of skin is inflamed, the body reacts to the inflammation with flu-like symptoms, says Dr. Neil Korman, a dermatologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

It is most dangerous in the very young and the very old, and if acute sunburn is accompanied by vomiting, you should seek medical attention as rehydration with IV fluids may be necessary, Winans says.

The Bite from the Mystery Bug

Spiders, bees and chiggers -- oh my! For most people, summer months mean more hours spent outside in the woods, the grass or out on the beach, but vacationers aren't the only species to flood the outdoor arena. Various members of the insect animal kingdom will be out in full force this summer, so it's important to know which pests are merely pesky, and which ones might cause for worry.

Bees and hornet stings are usually not problematic unless you are allergic to their sting or if multiple stings are received at once. Wheezing or excessive swelling around the face or site of sting should be checked out by a doctor immediately, especially if it seems the person is having an allergic reaction to the sting, says Winans.

As for spider bites, most are harmless, but a few species of poisonous spiders can cause more serious reactions. In the southern U.S., brown recluse spiders can result in large, painful bites that, left untreated, can lead to loss of a limb. Unlike normal spider bites, which get better over the course of a few days, poisonous bites will only get worse and the skin around the bite can start to die, Winans say.

"Recluse and black widow," which are native to Florida, "bites will be quite painful, and the pain will migrate to other parts of the body," he says. "The bites can turn yellow and look almost like an egg white with a bubble," he says. They should be seen by a medical professional immediately.

Chigger, mosquito and fire ant bites, while painful and itchy, are benign. They usually appear as small itchy bumps, or in the case of ant bites, small pus-filled bumps. "Put topical over-the-counter steroid cream on bites, but try not to itch them, that will only open them up to a possible infection," Winans says.

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