SUNBURN: You know you should always wear sunblock, but you didn’t- and now you look like a lobster. Get out of the sun immediately and take a painkiller containing ibuprofen (like Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Take a cool shower or bath, being very gentle with your skin- no scrubbing! Then coat your sunburn with either natural aloe vera gel or a product like Solarcaine that contains lanocaine, a deadening agent. As the red and pain fades in the following days, the most important thing to remember is to keep your skin moisturized, and it doesn’t hurt to continue the oral painkillers every four hours until the heat subsides.
BUG BITES: You forgot the bug spray and have been eaten alive by critters. You are itching and the bug bites are swelling. For relief from stings from spiders, mosquitoes and other small insects, dab a bit of rubbing alcohol on the lump; other methods include a baking soda paste, calamine lotion or a topical anesthetic. Hydrocortisone cream will relieve the itching, and if the swelling and pain are really bothering you, take some ibuprofen. If a bee, wasp or hornet bit you, first scrape out the stinger with a credit card- never pull it out, as this injects more poison into you. Then proceed with the above treatment. If you or anyone ever experiences difficulty breathing, talking or massive swelling after any kind of bug bite, take it seriously and call 911- it might be an allergic reaction that could result in death.
DEHYDRATION: You are out at a party or park having a great time in the sun and heat one moment, then the next you just feel awful, headachy, weak and pissed off. You are most likely dehydrated, but don’t down a gallon of ice water to remedy the situation as this can actually push your body into shock that could lead to a coma or worse. Instead, slowly sip room-temperature water until you are feeling a bit better and able to stand up. In the future, try to up your water intake and sip a little all day long, because by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
OCEAN ITCH: A few days after hitting the beach, you notice an itchy and bumpy red rash springing up around your bikini line. It’s probably ocean itch, which is really a nasty collection of stings from tiny little jellyfish. It sounds gross, but actually pretty common. Douse the affected area with a solution of one part white vinegar to six parts water, and then apply a hydrocortisone cream to help with itching. Next time, take off your swimsuit immediately after swimming and douse with the vinegar/water solution as soon as possible after swimming.
HEAT RASH: You are outdoors having fun when suddenly you feel like you are being pricked with needles all over. It’s probably heat rash, tiny fluid-filled bumps that are really plugged-up sweat glands. Get to a cool shower as soon as possible; this usually takes care of the rash in a few hours. Take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl for the itch, and for a few days wear loose clothing made of natural fibers and avoid greasy ointment, which can further plug the glands.