Time spent at the beach is one of the best ways to spend a fun filled day beating the summer heat. After all, what is better than a dip in cool waters, a mouthwatering barbecue and a refreshing nap under a beach umbrella? You’re probably thinking that returning home without injury or illness comes to mind and you’re right. Just in case things don’t work out that way, pack a first aid kit along with plenty of water and sunscreen for your outing. You should also follow swimming safety rules, beach safety tips and take note of any warning flags. If your best efforts still result in an allergic reaction, becoming familiar with the symptoms and treatment is always your best bet.
People are becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of sun exposure, including skin cancer and skin damage. Understandably, many of today’s beachgoers take preventative measures to protect themselves – sunscreen the defense of choice. Some sun lovers, though, will develop a rash everywhere they applied the lotion, leaving them confused and concerned they’re reacting to the sunscreen. The question most prevalent on their mind is how to determine if they’re allergic to sunscreen or something else.
A sunscreen allergy can appear within minutes of applying the lotion to days after visiting the beach. The symptoms include a rash with fluid filled blisters, red skin, swelling and itching everywhere one applied sunscreen. Fortunately, relief from the rash is possible by gently washing the sunscreen off with water and a mild soap. Applying an over-the-counter cortisone cream will help reduce swelling, pain and itching. Finally, you should also protect the affected area from the sun to prevent further irritation. The good news is using sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide reduces the risk of a reaction. A free camping spot with shelter from the sun or a large beach umbrella means you don’t have to use sunscreen quite as much.
No one expects to develop a rash or hives after taking a leisurely dip in the water. If this happens to you, you may think you’re just reacting to something in the water, but not the water itself. After all, can you be allergic to water? Yes, you can. While a water allergy is rare, there are people who are indeed allergic to the very substance they need for life. In most cases, the symptoms are skin based and are present whenever you swim, bath, shower or get water on your skin.
Rare or not, you should not ignore the possibility you are allergic to water. If you consistently develop burning or itching skin, hives or a rash within 15 minutes of being exposed to water, you should contact your doctor. For relief from the painful rash, you can use a Benadryl spray, although using barrier creams to protect yourself from exposure to water is perhaps wiser. Remember, being aware of your allergies, how to prevent allergic reactions and how to treat reactions is part of beach safety.
An allergy to water is not the only source of reactions people may suffer when swimming. Actually, you might find a number of issues when enjoying a refreshing dip on a hot summer day whether swimming in fresh or salt water. A prime example is a condition known as Swimmer’s Itch, or an allergic reaction to parasites found in the water. While usually found in fresh water, these nasty little critters come from aquatic birds and snails. If you develop an itchy rash while swimming, chances are its Swimmer’s Itch. The next step is to determine how to treat swimmers itch.
First, understand that you can follow every swimming safety rule known and still develop Swimmer’s Itch. Simply put, there is no way to prevent the allergic reaction. The key is understanding how to treat swimmers itch. In most cases, you will find a topical corticosteroid cream is one of the best methods, although an antihistamine will work as well. If you don’t have access to either, don’t worry. Swimmer’s Itch usually clears up within a week even if it isn’t treated.
The very term, Seabather’s Eruption, is enough to give most people nightmares. Despite the name, though, this condition is very similar to Swimmer’s Itch, but occurs in saltwater rather than fresh water. The difference is Seabather’s Eruption is caused when jellyfish larva are trapped between your bathing suit and your skin. More to the point, you can avoid this allergic reaction by simply following swimming safety rules and beach safety tips. Beaches post warning flags to inform beachgoers of possible dangers. And a critical step in beach safety is knowing what each flag means and responding accordingly. In many cases, a blue or purple flag warns dangerous sea life, including jellyfish, was spotted in the area. Staying out of the water will ensure you don’t suffer from Seabather’s Eruption.
From time to time, you will still come across jellyfish and their larva, known as sea lice. If you suffer from sea lice bites, you may begin developing an itchy rash while still swimming, and you could suffer from other symptoms such as chills and fever, nausea and vomiting, a headache or diarrhea. The first thing to keep in mind is don’t rub or scratch sea lice bites. Either action can cause the larva to release a toxin that will make your condition worse. The good news is that Seabather’s Eruption is also treated with corticosteroid creams and antihistamines. However, if you don’t wash your suit, you may develop Seabather’s Eruption a second time without ever coming close to jellyfish.
The downside to visiting the beach is dealing with the sand, particularly when it gets in your food, your car, your clothes and your hair. However, you never imagined letting the kids bury you in sand up to the neck would result in a rash. Of course, you didn’t think you’d have to worry about fleas at the beach either. Sand fleas, unfortunately, are among the many insects you must deal with during a beach outing. A sand rash, or beach rash, may look like tiny red mosquito bites around the feet and ankles, unless you let the kids bury you in the sand. In some cases, though, this reaction looks more like swollen areas with tiny black dots in the middle. Either reaction is itchy, uncomfortable and painful, driving you to seek out the quickest form of relief.
As much as the beach rash itches, the last thing you should do is scratch the affected area. Instead, apply calamine lotion to the rash to relieve the irritation. An oatmeal bath or baking soda mixed with water and left on the rash works wonders as well. You may even take a mild pain reliever to ease the discomfort and swelling. Rather than go through all of that, avoiding the beach during early morning and late evening hours or after it rains is the first step to prevention. Sand fleas are more active in cool, moist weather. Finally, as much fun as being buried in the sand may seem, sand fleas bites or other allergic reactions can ruin anyone’s day at the beach.
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