Safety Tips: Before you head to the beach for July 4, here’s what you need to know

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People enjoy a day on the beach in the seaside tourist resort of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo State, on February 15, 2019. – Playa del Carmen and nearby Cancun are the top tourist destinations in Mexico, famous for their turquoise waters and white-sand Caribbean beaches. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD)- Independence Day is around the corner. We spoke with CVS MinuteClinic nurse practitioner Connie Deeter to get insight on how to safely enjoy this holiday weekend.

Before you head to the beach with your family and friends, here are some safety tips you need to know:

Why does swimming cause ear infections for some beachgoers?

  • Swimmer’s ear can cause discomfort for all, regardless of age. If water stays in the ear canal for too long, it provides the perfect environment for infection.

How can you prevent this?

  • Dry your ears after swimming with a towel and if necessary tilt your head to the side to allow water to drain. Over-the-counter treatments available at pharmacy stores like CVS promote drying and prevent bacteria growth.
  • A homemade mixture of ½ rubbing alcohol and ½ vinegar is equally effective. Squirt it into the ear. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and then drain the ear by tilting your head to the side.

How can you identify an infection and how is it treated?

  • Ear infections usually appear within a day or two of swimming. Symptoms include itchiness inside the ear; redness and swelling; tenderness to touch; and possible puss draining from the infected ear.
  • These infections can escalate rather quickly and become extremely painful. So visit your primary care provider or come see us at MinuteClinic and we can prescribe an antibiotic if it’s appropriate.

SUNBURN

If someone gets a bad sunburn, what’s the best response for treating the condition?

  • Take a cool bath or shower and liberally apply aloe or hydrocortisone cream. And make sure you drink large amounts of water because sunburn draws fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body. A common pain reliever will help reduce swelling, redness and discomfort.

At what point should someone seek medical attention?

  • If there are signs of blistering or infection, or if you’re experiencing high fever, headache, confusion, nausea or chills, please get evaluated by a medical professional, like one of our practitioners at MinuteClinic. Some prescription medication and treatment may be needed if your burn does not respond to home care.

And how can we prevent this from happening?

  • Apply sunblock liberally 15 minutes before arriving at the beach and reapply every two hours or after being in the water. Remember NO sunblock is waterproof, only water resistant. I recommend SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97% of both UVA and UVB rays. And ladies, don’t assume your lip products offer that type of protection.
  • Also wide brim hats are great and some hats offer detachable capes to protect the neck and ears, two of the most common areas for skin cancers.

JELLYFISH STINGS

What should you do if you’re stung at the beach?

There are a few variances based on the type of jellyfish

  • If it’s one of the many types of common jellyfish with circular heads, simply flush and clean the wound with seawater. When you get home, treat it with an antibiotic ointment and a light bandage. Avoid the old wives’ tales: Meat tenderizer doesn’t work. Urine – also not effective – may cause even more pain.
  • Stings from sea lice – which are microscopic jellyfish – affect wide areas. Make a paste of baking soda and water, but DO NOT mix it with vinegar. That causes a chemical reaction that further irritates the skin. For follow up treatment, Calamine lotion will dry the wound. 
  • Lastly, if a family member or friend is stung by a Portuguese Man O War, call emergency services and seek immediate treatment. Their stings are severe and can cause shock or even temporary paralysis.

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