Summer Health, Mythbuster Edition

It’s hot. It’s muggy. It’s summer.  As July flies by, many good people have passed on advice about ways to stay prime in the summertime.  But are some good-intentioned tips really old wives’ tales?  I looked up some common do’s and don’ts of summer health to see if they should be taken to heart or thrown out the window.

1.       True or false?  Scratching a mosquito bite will make it worse.

TRUE.  A good old fashioned scratch will actually inflame the area more, making the bite worse.  Instead, hold something cold, like ice or a can of soda, to the bite.  This slows the body’s reaction to the bite and decreases your brain’s response to the irritation, dulling the itch. If it continues to bother you, use Calamine lotion or another anti-itch cream to prevent itching.  Even better, avoid the bite altogether!

2.       You have to wait 30 minutes (or an hour, depending on what your mom said) after you eat before jumping in for a swim.

FALSE.  While there may be the possibility of getting stomach cramps when swimming on a full stomach, it is unlikely that this will be severe enough to lead to drowning.  The greater risk associated with swimming is when  people choose to drink alcohol and then swim.  The CDC estimates that about one half of young adult unintentional drownings while swimming involve alcohol. So be safe- if you choose to drink, stick to your limits and stay out of the pool.

3.       Going between heat outside and air conditioning inside will make you sick.

FALSE.  Even in the South, where air conditioning abuse is rampant and temps outside go sky high, the contrast between the two won’t make you sick.  It is more likely that your summer cold is caused by germs that live on surfaces inside, or perhaps by seasonal allergies.  Make sure to wash your hands regularly and take care of yourself by eating right to keep your immune system in tip top shape.

4.        Sunburns will “fade to a tan”.

 FALSE.  Sunburns and tans are actually very different reactions to the sun.  Sunburn is irritation caused by overexposure to UV light.  A suntan is caused by increased production of melanin pigment, which is created to protect your skin from UV light.  That’s not to say that a tan is necessarily a good thing- essentially once your skin has changed color it has already been damaged, and sun damage increase your risk for skin cancer.  The best ways to keep your skin protected from the damaging rays of the sun is to wear always wear sunscreen and to stay covered or indoors during peak sun hours.


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