That season of warm, bright days, road trips, sunny beaches and mountain getaways. Summer also brings soaring temperatures, insects and the potential for suffering a number of bothersome and painful ailments. Luckily, with these tips, you can easily prevent or treat most minor maladies that summer brings, with items you may have in your kitchen or home garden.
The sun’s UV rays are particularly intense between 10 am to 3 pm. If you’ve been out in the sun during this period without sunscreen protection, you are likely to get sunburn. Everyone who’s been out by the lake or beach knows the telltale signs: an almost lobster-like redness of the skin, followed by tenderness and pain on the afflicted areas. Fortunately, sunburn is easy to treat.
- Vinegar contains acetic acid, the active ingredient of aspirin. This is what makes it an effective pain-reliever for sunburned skin. To apply, soak a few paper towels and cover the affected area.
- Oatmeal can also soothe the pain of a sunburn. Place about ½ to 1 cup of oatmeal in a bowl with water, mixing it into a paste. Take spoonfuls of the oatmeal and spread over the affected area. You can squeeze the oatmeal and let the liquid coat the sunburned areas before spreading. Leave the oatmeal on the skin for 10-15 minutes before washing it off.
- Aloe vera is also effective in easing sunburn inflammation. Combine aloe vera gel and lavender oil and freeze them in ice cube trays, then apply the frozen cubes to soothe the inflamed area and speed up healing (see sidebar).
Motion sickness and nausea
If you or any of your party are prone to getting carsick, seasick, or nauseous on plane trips, take some ginger candy along. Ginger has an antioxidant called Gingerol that reduces inflammation and eases stomach upsets.
Bee stings or insect bites
If you get stung by a bee or bitten by insects, plain baking soda and water can alleviate the pain. First, gently remove the stinger. Then combine baking soda and some water into a paste and dab it on the affected skin. Leave it on for about 15 minutes to let the baking soda neutralize the venom or bite.
Cuts and scrapes
If, after a full day of hiking, climbing, or similar activity you’ve sustained a few minor cuts and scrapes, here are a couple of common items to disinfect your wounds and hasten the healing process:
- Apple cider vinegar, about 1 cup, added to a warm bath can ease the pain of any wounds. Moreover, the protein and enzymes present in apple cider vinegar aid your skin’s ability to patch itself up, while its germ-killing property staves off infection. If you’re worried about the smell, don’t – it isn’t as potent when diluted in a bathtub.
- Honey is nature’s “miracle food” in that it never spoils if kept pure and stored properly. You can also apply honey to heal superficial cuts and wounds. It helps wounds heal faster by helping blood to clot, and its acidic nature wards off infection. Apply a thin layer of honey with a Q-tip or popsicle stick, then cover with a bandage. Change the dressing and reapply twice a day.
Heat rash or “prickly heat” can be quite common during hot summer months and can be very irritating to the skin. The hot weather causes sweat ducts in the skin to be blocked and stop generating sweat, thereby trapping heat. Sometimes, this condition can go to the extreme of causing “bumps” on the skin look like tiny pimples. This happens only in extreme cases; heat rash normally clears up in a few days. To treat, make sure the skin is allowed to “breathe”. Soak in a bathtub, adding a few tablespoons of baking soda to the water. You can also apply baking soda on the afflicted areas and reapply every few hours, after rinsing and drying the skin.
Outdoor activities like walking and hiking inevitably result in blisters on the heels, toes or ankles. Again, aloe vera’s topical medicinal properties save the day. First, clean the blister with soap and water. Next, smear the blister with aloe vera gel, covering it with a bandage. Use gel directly from a plant, if possible, as store-bought gel may have some ingredients that can dry out your skin.
It’s no surprise that summer heat can make your feet sweaty, and if you don’t change your socks or air out your soles, you can develop athlete’s foot. A simple but effective remedy for this is mouthwash. Strange as it may seem, the ethanol in mouthwash has powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Soaking your feet in a basin of this stuff is guaranteed to kill bacteria, fungi and germs that cause athlete’s foot.
Muscle aches and pains
If due to some strenuous physical activity you’ve gotten bumps, bruises and sore muscles, you can use Epsom salt to relieve the pain. Add 1 cup to a bowl of warm water. Soak a towel in the mix, wring out and cover the pained area. You can also place a hot water bottle over the towel to prolong the heat and the Epsom salt’s beneficial effects.
This occurs when water gets stuck in the outer ear canal. If not drained, bacteria or fungi may flourish and cause inflammation. Over-the-counter aspirin can take care of the pain, but how do you treat the ailment? With garlic oil from the store, or DIY garlic oil. To make your own garlic oil, take three medium-sized garlic cloves and grate them. Combine the grated garlic with olive oil in a dish. Leave the mixture to “marinate” overnight. Strain out the garlic, and apply three drops into the affected ear, repeating until the infection clears up.
Aloe vera gel is a handy salve for wounds, sunburns, minor burns, blisters and insect bites – some of the skin-afflicting ailments you’ll face during summer. To help you deal with these, stock up on your own all-around remedy by making frozen aloe vera cubes. Just follow these steps:
- Gather about 6 ounces of aloe vera gel. This can be bought from a health food store, or if you have enough aloe vera plants and the patience to extract the gel, so much the better.
- Mix the gel with around 20 drops of lavender oil.
- Place the mixture in a squeeze bottle.
- Squeeze out into ice cube trays.
- Place in freezer. Be sure to mark the trays so no one mistakenly puts the cubes in their drinks.
- Once frozen, apply a cube on any blisters, burns, bites or wounds as needed.