Take steps to stay healthy so you can enjoy every minute of summer 2017!
Take steps to stay healthy so you can enjoy every minute of summer 2017!

Make Summer 2017 the Best Ever

With Memorial Day and the unofficial start to summer just a few days away, it’s time to take steps to make sure you and your family stay healthy so you can enjoy every minute of the summer of 2017.
“Before you head out to the lake or the pool, make sure you stock up on sunscreen and first aid basics,” said Dr. Amy Phillips, one of our OB/GYN doctors at UAMS. “Suncreens are made to stay at their original strength for up to three years, so it’s fine to use last year’s leftover supply. Be sure to look at the expiration date and throw away any expired products, and throw out any sunscreen that isn’t the right color or consistency. Insect repellent also lasts for about three years. Leaving bottles in a glove compartment or beach bag can hamper effectiveness, so follow the storage instructions and throw out any products that have an unusual odor or texture.”

Stay Sun Safe

Make sure your sunscreen has an SPF of at least 30 and is labeled as both broad spectrum and water-resistant. Don’t pay extra for an SPF of 80 or 100 – the added benefit is very small. Just reapply your SPF 30 sunscreen every couple of hours and after swimming or sweating.
Spray sunscreen may seem more convenient, but it’s hard to know how much landed on your body and how much blew away. Play it safe with lotions so you know for sure you haven’t missed a spot. And, don’t be afraid to use too much – the average body needs about a shot glass full of lotion for full protection from the sun.
To help determine your sun exposure, download EPAUV Index, a free UV Index app from the US Environmental Protection Agency. Just enter your zip code or find your location on the map, and you can see an hourly UV index forecast for your area. 
A wide-brimmed hat is a great defense against sunburn. Look for a hat with a brim at least three inches wide. This will protect your scalp as well as your face, ears and the back of your neck. A hat will also shade your eyes and help keep you from squinting. And, hats keep you cool.

Bug Off!

If you’re outside in Arkansas, it’s nearly impossible to avoid bugs. Some are pretty, some eat other bugs, some carry disease and some bite. Use this guide to identify the bugs so you know the good guys from the bad guys.
Ticks are plentiful in Arkansas and can be more dangerous than their size may suggest. They carry a variety of diseases. Check for ticks any time you are outside and remove them as quickly as possible.
Mosquitos also carry diseases and can infect humans. To protect yourself and your family, use bug spray before going outside. When putting on bug spray, remember:
  • Spray over clothing
  • Use just enough to cover exposed areas of skin and clothing
  • Don’t apply over cuts, wounds, rashes or irritated skin
  • Wash skin with soap and water when you go back inside
  • Wash clothing before wearing it again

Play it Safe

Before summer gets in full gear, put together a first aid kit to keep in your car and take on family outings. Here’s a list of items to include:
  • Thermometer
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Hydrocortisone cream for rashes and bug bites
  • Bottle of water
  • Tea tree oil to treat poison ivy
  • Aloe vera gel for sunburn
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Antiseptic towelettes for scrapes and cuts
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandages, band-aids, gauze and tape
  • Tweezers and a sterile needle for splinters
  • Instant ice packs
  • Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  • Saline solution to clean out eyes
  • Small doses of pain relievers and antihistamines
  • Over-the-counter medicines to treat upset stomachs and diarrhea or motion sickness
  • Phone numbers for your family doctor and dentist

    Call for Help

    Before you read further, add this number to the contacts in your phone: Poison Control 1-800-222-1222. In addition to answering questions about drug interactions and poisons, the trained staff who answer calls at the Arkansas Poison Center also answer questions about bites and stings. The Arkansas Poison and Drug Information Center is a program of the UAMS College of Pharmacy and provides answers to questions about poisons, bites, stings and drug interactions 24 hours a day. 

    Eat Fresh

    Summer is a great time to eat fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. It’s not too late to plant your own garden. There are lots of choices you can plant in May and June. If growing your own food is not in your summer plans, you can find locally grown produce at your nearest farmer’s market. A trip to the market makes a fun family outing, too. Central Arkansas markets include River Market, Hillcrest, Bernice Garden and Argenta.

    To learn more, visit the UAMS Health Library
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