TIPS FOR COMMON AILMENTS
Enjoying the great outdoors sometimes results in injuries. It’s important to know how to treat minor problems with a first-aid kit and to recognize what merits a visit to an urgent care center or an emergency room.
STINGRAYS: Swimmers can step on their barbed tails, especially when rays hang out on the ocean floor close to shore. Wounds from these barbs can cause intense pain and infection, so seek medical attention. Urgent care centers and hospital emergency rooms typically treat more than 200 patients a year. Soak the affected area (usually foot or hand) in hot water to relieve pain.
JELLYFISH: Beach Shore Service Operations lifeguards treat thousands of people for jellyfish stings every year, but only a few require medical attention. To ease the pain of a sting, rinse the area with vinegar for at least 30 seconds. Some people find a hot shower can help calm the pain; others prefer a cool compress. Use mild hydrocortisone cream or an oral antihistamine to relieve itching and swelling.
SUNBURN: Cool the burn with a cold shower or cold compresses, but don’t apply ice directly to sunburned skin. Use a moisturizer that contains aloe vera to soothe the skin, and don’t pop blisters. Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so drink extra water. Seek medical help for severe blistering over a large portion of the body, fever or chills, or if the person is woozy or confused.
STRAINS AND SPRAINS: Bruising and swelling are common symptoms of a sprained ankle, knee, wrist, etc. Initial treatment includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. Mild sprains can be successfully treated at home. If there is severe tearing of the ligaments, you might also hear or feel a "pop" when the sprain occurs — if this happens, seek medical attention.
EAR ACHE: Prevent painful swimmer’s ear by mixing one drop of vinegar with one drop of isopropyl alcohol — also known as rubbing alcohol. Put a few drops in each ear after swimming. Dry the area around the ear with a hair dryer, but make sure it’s set on low and hold it about 12 inches away from your ear. If an earache has already set in, medical attention is needed. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Advil will help until the doctor can see you.