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Have Fun in the Sun, but Avoid Burns and Injuries

Have Fun in the Sun, but Avoid Burns and Injuries

For many people, summer is a time for barbecues and outdoor activities. But there are also some risks that come with spending more time outdoors. Burns, cuts and scrapes, and bug bites can also be part of summer.

“The best thing you can do this summer is be prepared,” notes Harpreet Singh, MD. Dr. Singh is a primary care physician with Washington Township Medical Foundation. “I recommend having a first-aid kit that you can take with you on trips and outings, wherever you go,” he says. “The kit should contain bandages and antibiotic cream for any cuts and scrapes. It may also include an antihistamine like Benadryl for bug bites and poison oak, and aloe vera gel for sunburns. Insect repellent, sunscreen, tweezers, scissors, gauze and disinfectant wipes are also great additions.” This type of kit can be kept in the car.

These are some of the items that can help with minor burns, cuts and scrapes, and bug bites. Dr. Singh continues, “Most of the time, minor injuries can be treated at home, but for major falls, broken bones, and other more serious events, contact your doctor or go to the emergency room.”

Treating Burns

Most burns that result from barbecuing or cooking can be treated at home. Run room-temperature or cool tap water over the burn for no more than 5 minutes. A wet towel can be applied to the burn for up to 30 minutes. Do not apply ice to the burn, as that can make it worse. Cover the wound with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage. If the burned skin is dirty, it can usually be cleaned with a gentle soap and water. Vaseline or bacitracin ointment can be applied to superficial burns. A doctor should be consulted if the burn is more extensive.

Sunburns should be treated with aloe vera gel or cream. Dr. Singh advises to make sure aloe is the main ingredient and that the gel or cream doesn’t contain a lot of other ingredients or chemicals. Cool baths or showers can help relieve some of the discomfort. Dr. Singh also recommends drinking plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated. “It’s important to protect yourself from the sun,” he added. “You should wear sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing when you’re outside. Be sure to use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and reapply it frequently.”

Cuts and Scrapes

Dr. Singh further advises, “Cuts and scrapes should first be rinsed with cool water to remove dirt or debris, then cleaned with soap and water.” Stronger cleaning solutions like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide are not recommended because they can irritate the wound.

It’s important to stop any bleeding by applying firm, direct pressure using a clean cloth or gauze. Once the bleeding has stopped and the wound is clean, apply Vaseline or bacitracin ointment, then cover it with a sterile bandage or gauze pad and tape. If the cut or scrape is small, you may want to leave it uncovered, but for most wounds, it’s a good idea to cover them. Change the bandage every day until the wound starts to heal.

Most minor cuts and abrasions can be easily treated at home, but Dr. Singh is quick to point out, “If it’s a deep cut or won’t stop bleeding, then you should seek medical care. Watch for signs of infection as the wound heals. If it swells or oozes puss, it may be infected and you should talk to your primary care physician.”

Bug Bites

With all the time spent outdoors this summer, bug bites are bound to happen. Dr. Singh recommends wearing insect repellent that contains DEET to protect against mosquito bites and ticks. “While the risk is not high, mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and you can contract Lyme disease from ticks. After you spend time hiking or being out in nature, you should check your clothing and body for ticks,” he adds.

Bug bites can be treated with baking soda and water. Make a paste and apply it to the bite. You can also buy over-the-counter creams and lotions that can help reduce the redness, swelling and itching.

Summer is a time for outdoor fun. A little preparation before an outing can go a long way towards protecting you and your family members from the not-so-fun aspects of summertime. For information about Washington Hospital programs and services that can help you stay healthy, visit

For information about Dr. Singh, please visit his page.