Summer is a time for being outdoors, enjoying the weather, and soaking up as much vitamin D as possible. But all that exposure to the heat and harsh sunlight requires taking different precautions than you would in any other season. If you’re not careful, you could end up increasing your risk of skin cancer, getting covered in mosquito bites, and suffering from dehydration.
Following basic summer health advice is a good first step — these tips might help keep you safe through the season. But there are some pieces of summer health advice that are totally misguided. Somewhere or another, a myth was conjured up about the health benefits of ocean water or cleansing your body of toxins. But following these pieces of advice might actually pose more of a health risk than benefit.
Don’t let that stop you from having a blast this summer, though. Take a day trip to the beach or pack a delicious picnic. Get outside and (so long as you apply sunscreen) sit for a while and enjoy the sun. You might even take a last-minute vacation or two. Just inform yourself first about what health advice not to follow this summer.
This homonym seems to have caused some confusion — it’s not the same kind of cold. Temperature changes can be uncomfortable, but they certainly don’t make you sick. Extreme cold temperatures can weaken your immune system, however, making you more susceptible to sickness.
Before you kick back with a cocktail, you might want to consider the risks of the situation. You’re actively dehydrating yourself while under direct, strong sunlight and near a large body of saltwater. If you’re not careful to hydrate and sip electrolytes alongside your beverage, you could end up dangerously dehydrated. You’re also far more likely to get a sunburn if you’re inebriated. Don’t beach and drink, friends. Just don’t.
What you can’t see can’t hurt you, right? Wrong. Sunlight isn’t always visible. And even though none of the strongest rays are peeking through the clouds, UV rays that can cause skin damage seep through pretty much anything in the atmosphere. Put on sunscreen every time you go outside, no matter the weather.
If you ever attended any pool parties as a child, you probably remember this rule. It was a major bummer. It might be a good idea to avoid swimming after you’ve just eaten, but doing so won’t make you sick. The worst that could happen is some stomach cramping because you’re not done digesting. As long as you can tolerate the discomfort, you don’t need to wait to dive in. There is one rule you should follow in your adult life, however. If you’ve consumed any alcohol, don’t go for a swim. It could be really dangerous. Try a refreshing mocktail instead!
They’re cute, but at what cost? Flip flops are flimsy, leaving your feet with zero support or cushioning. They’re bad for your heels, your toes, and even your posture. Wearing them every day could lead to pinched nerves, heel damage, tendonitis, or a hammertoe. Not cute.
This might surprise you, but open wounds and murky water don’t mix. Ocean water is far from sterile. By rinsing off a cut with saltwater, you’re risking exposure to all the lurking bacteria and contaminants. Instead, avoid submerging your cut in saltwater until the skin has sealed; wash the wound with soap and clean water.
Bees are one of the biggest health hazards you encounter in the summer. Their stings are painful and most people don’t know how to treat them properly. While it’s true you need to remove the stinger, you’re better off doing so with a pair of tweezers than scraping or sucking it from your skin. Both of those tactics can transfer bacteria to the sting. Sucking the stinger out can transfer venom from the stinger into your mouth (ouch!). If you don’t have tweezers nearby, try squeezing the stinger out. And don’t be too mad at the bees if you’re stung. Without them, humanity and our food supply would be in big trouble!
They vant to suck your blood, and though it may stop vampires, the stench of garlic isn’t going to stop mosquitoes. You’re going to need some serious bug repellent to ward off all the mosquitoes this season, but it’s worth the investment. Mosquitoes can carry disease and are insanely annoying. There’s no scientific backing to the idea that garlic will work to stave off these blood-suckers. The only creatures you’ll successfully scare away are your friends — garlic can make you stink.
Since every person’s body and activity level are different, every person’s water needs are different, too. While someone like Tom Brady can guzzle gallons of water every day without any trouble, that much hydration could be dangerous to someone else. We asked nutritionists how much water you really need per day, and here’s what they had to say. But your best bet is to listen to your body, sip some water with every meal, and hydrate when you feel any of these telltale signs of dehydration.
It’s true that your sweat contains tiny particles and remnants of things you’ve eaten. But “toxins” and “cleanses” are a total myth. Your kidneys actually filter things out themselves — regardless of whether or not you sip on nothing but juice for five days. Trying to sweat out toxins from your body can actually have the opposite effect. If you get dehydrated in the extreme heat, your body’s natural processes (such as filtering out these damaging compounds) aren’t going to work as well, meaning your kidneys likely won’t perform as thorough a job.
The only thing a cleanse will help you lose is your sanity. Extreme methods of weight loss just don’t work long-term, and short-term they can put your body into a state of panic from starvation. As appealing as drinking nothing but juice for 10 days may sound, it’s not worth the effort (or the money). Instead of trying to lose weight last-minute before bikini season, try some of these tricks to feel better in your body without dieting.
Whoever told you this wives’ tale was just trying to butter you up. You can smear a greasy stick of butter on your skin if you really want to — but it won’t ease your sunburn. It may actually make the pain worse by trapping heat on the surface of your skin. Instead of wasting butter that could better be used baking (or even added to your coffee), try running cold water over your burn or using a food-based remedy.
You probably learned this trick from an episode of Friends — but it’s totally made up. In fact, peeing on a jellyfish sting can make it worse. When a jellyfish stings you, it releases tiny barbs of venom called nematocysts into your skin. If you add fresh water to them (your pee counts as fresh water) they expand and release more venom. Your best bet is to rinse the affected area with salt water and carefully lift off any stinging tentacles remaining on your skin.
A little scratching couldn’t hurt, right? Nope. It definitely can, especially because a little scratching is never really just a little scratching. Once you start, you likely won’t stop. If you accidentally scratch too violently, you could cause a tear in the skin that could later lead to infection. Your fingernails are harboring all kinds of germs. Instead of risking contamination, simply ice your bug bite with an ice cube. The cold temperatures will temporarily ease the itch by cooling down the inflammation.
No need to go digging in your slice of watermelon to take out all the black seeds — they won’t poison you and you won’t grow a watermelon tree in your tummy, either. Just like the seeds of other fruits that can’t be digested, your body will simply pass them through your digestive system without any problem. It’s a good thing, too, because watermelon is one of the best fruits you can eat in the summer heat — it’s hydrating and good for your skin. Use this guide to picking the perfect one and make something sweet with your watermelon this summer.
If you’re ever visiting this lake that gets hit by lightning 280 times every hour, you may want to stay in your car. It’s the safest place to seek shelter from a storm — but not because of the tires. This might be one of those things you’ve only heard if you’re from Florida. But for whatever reason, people believe that when a car gets hit by lightning, the rubber from the tires absorbs the electricity and protects the car’s passengers from the strike. Again, the inside of a car is a safe place to seek shelter. The metal that makes up the car’s exterior conducts all the electricity from the lightning strike around the cabin, keeping the interior of the car shock-free. Just don’t touch any metal!
This might sound ridiculous, since you’ve got a roof over your head and everything. But unless you’re living in a windowless box, you need to protect your skin from sunlight that sneaks indoors. Windows can’t filter out certain types of UV rays, meaning that any time light from the window hits your skin, you’re exposed to the kinds of radiation that cause skin cancer. Don’t forget to apply sunblock indoors, and don’t forget on these other occasions people often overlook, either!
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