Doctors Bust Some Summertime Myths

How many finish their lunch only to hear these dreaded words: "You can't go back in the pool for an hour or you'll get a cramp and drown!" But does that rule really hold water?

Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, co-authors of the popular "You: The Owner's Manual" books, do some myth busting of the common summertime warnings.

Myth: Always wait an hour after eating before going back in the pool.

False. It's OK to get in the water a few minutes after eating. Most myths have a touch of truth in them, and what happens is that 30 percent of your blood shifts to your gut after you eat, but unless you're running a triathlon, you don't have to worry. Strictly speaking, for your digestion, it would be nice not to run around immediately after you eat so. But the worst that will happen is you'll get a mild stomach ache.


Myth: Grilled food is bad for you.

False. Grilled food is healthy, but when you burn anything, you create free radicals and carcinogenic chemicals. It doesn't matter what kind of charcoal you use, it has to do exclusively with the burning. But by marinating for 15 minutes, you reduce carcinogens by 94 percent. You can use any kind of marinade, because what's important is that the chemicals seep into the meat, so when you heat it you don't burn it as much.

Myth: Waterwings keep young kids safe in the pool.

Not necessarily. First of all, if one slips off, there go all the safety benefits right there. And while the waterwings might keep their arms afloat, their heads can still fall forward or backward, which means they could still get water in their lungs. What you should use instead are floating bathing suits or life preserver jackets. The flotation material needs to be close to your body and close to the waist; It's not enough to keep the head up, you need the chest up, too.

Myth: Bike helmets always keep you safe.

Only if they fit properly and are worn level on the head, not tipped back.

Myth: Stay away from people with poison ivy -- it's contagious!

False. Poison ivy and poison oak are not transmitted by blisters from someone else, only from the sap of the plant. Your kid can't get it by playing with another kid who has it. It's basically an allergic reaction to an oil called urushiol in the plant. Just remember the saying "leaves of three stay away from me," and don't touch those three-leafed plants. But if you do, and you wash with water within 10 minutes, you can avoid the reaction. Water is best because soaps can actually spread the toxin. After 10 minutes, only half of the toxin can be removed and after an hour, none can be removed.

If you do develop a reaction, some people take an oral antihistamine to help with the itching, but that doesn't address the overall problem. So if you do get it, use a topical hydrocortisone such as Cortaid or Caldecort, or oral steroids if it's severe. A good home remedy is simple vinegar mixed with water placed on top of the wound. You can also soak in cool water with Aveeno oatmeal additive.

Myth: People with darker skin don't need sunscreen.

Everyone needs sunscreen, even people who have dark complexions or don't burn. But darker-skinned people can use lower SPF numbers than lighter skinned people. Most black people have an innate SPF of 15, and that is adequate for everyday casual sun exposure but not adequate for extended time in the sun, such as a day at the beach.

Remember, the skin on the buttocks is the most youthful looking skin on the body because it's never seen the sun. Well, for most people at least.

Myth: Tilt your head back when you get a nosebleed.

False: People think you should throw your head back to stop a nosebleed. Doing that can cause blood to go into your lungs. Instead, pinch the fleshy part of your nose -- the pressure will stop the flow of blood and cause it to clot.