Summer Sun Safety and More

girl floating in the poolDon’t let a sunburn spoil your summer fun — or damage your skin

Lazing in the sun with the perfume of coconut-scented tanning lotion wafting around you — is that your idea of a perfect summer day? Then it’s time to hit the reset button.

While everyone needs a little time in the sun to produce vitamin D (which helps in the absorption of calcium for stronger and healthier bones), unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays can injure the skin, eyes, and immune system. It can also cause cancer.

Although heredity and environment play a part, dermatologists blame sunburn and too much exposure to UV rays for damaging the skin, leading to wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer.

Skin Check, formerly known as Sun Smarts, will take place at several Rhode Island beaches this summer. Beachgoers will get free, private screenings by expert dermatologists. The events are presented jointly by Lifespan Community Health Institute, Rhode Island Departments of Health and Environmental Management, the Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island, Brown Dermatology Inc., American Cancer Society, and NBC 10. 

Identifying cases of skin cancer at their earliest, most treatable stage and educating the public about effective sun protection are the twin goals of Skin Check. A local couple credit the Skin Check program for discovering that the husband and wife had melanoma. Learn more about their story.

The dates for this year’s events follow:

Learn more about how to enjoy a safe summer

Water Safety

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a refreshing swim in a pool or the ocean.

While fun in the water goes hand in hand with hot weather, there are safety rules that everyone should know. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission created Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives to help everyone enjoy their time in the water. Three keys are:

  • Staying close, being alert, and watching children in and around the pool
  • Learning and practicing water safety skills
  • Having the right equipment for your pool and spa

Get more pointers from the 4-Safety program, a partnership of Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Dunkin’ Donuts,  and at the National Water Safety Month website.

There’s useful information for beachgoers on the Rhode Island Department of Health website.

What to do if you’re stung by a jellyfish

Severe reactions to jellyfish stings are very rare. If you’re stung by a jellyfish:

  • Use the edge of a credit card or ID card to gently scrape away any tentacles, and rinse with salt water.
  • When possible, bathe the area with vinegar for 30 seconds or apply a paste of baking soda and salt water, which may help deactivate stingers. (Contrary to popular lore, rinsing with urine has not been proven to help.)
  • Take a hot shower, and apply calamine lotion or a first-aid lotion containing lidocaine to reduce the pain and itching. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help provide relief.

Seek immediate emergency medical attention if:

  • Swelling occurs
  • Redness spreads across the skin beyond the area of the sting
  • You develop shortness of breath

Insect-borne Illness

Enjoying outdoor activities is key to summer for many people. But being outside also raises concerns about insect-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, EEE, West Nile virus, and Zika.

Lyme disease is the most common, but not the only, illness caused by the bite of a black-legged deer tick. Encephalitis, or swelling of the brain, can result from a mosquito or tick bite. Lifespan’s Lyme Disease Center at Newport Hospital  is a unique, multidisciplinary center entirely dedicated to the treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

Learn about West Nile virus, encephalitis, and how to protect against mosquito bites, and test your knowledge with quizzes.

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