Summer Injuries and First Aid

Heading outdoors for some fun this summer? Of course, you are! Here are some common summer injuries, and first aid tips to help you heal.


These are a common problem and are usually best handled by treating the symptoms. First, keep the skin lubricated with any type of hydrating lotion. Use ice packs for the area or cool showers. Take Tylenol or Motrin for pain. These generally get better in two days. If there is itching, you can again use cool showers and use Benadryl.

Things that Bite and Sting

We see more insect stings and bites with wasps, bees or hornets. These generally cause just a local reaction. They are best treated with ice, taking some Benadryl and Tylenol for pain and elevation of the extremity. They do not require antibiotics unless redness or swelling develops after two days. At that point, you will know to see your doctor and follow-up if it is still red or swollen. If after any of these stings, you start developing a widespread rash or swelling to your throat or lips or any shortness of breath, go to the hospital emergency department immediately.

Other stings and bites from ants or other insects are best treated using Neosporin to the site and keeping them clean with soap and water. If they do develop redness, swelling or over the next two days, you can follow-up with your doctor to make sure an infection is not developing. Another area of exposure is to plants that cause more allergic types of responses like poison oak, poison ivy or poison sumac. These cause a local reaction. They are best treated with ice and Benadryl for the itching. You can also use the 1% hydrocortisone cream that you buy over the counter. If this becomes more widespread over a larger area, it may require taking steroids by mouth. You will need to see your doctor and follow-up if that is the case.

Jellyfish stings during time along the beach are another common problem we see. First, you want to remove the person from the water. If there are tentacles associated with the jellyfish sting, this has to be washed off. It is best washed off with sea water because that way it will keep the poison cells from delivering more toxins to the area. You can even scrape them off with a credit card or some type of plastic that is not sharp. Afterwards, soaking the area in warm water or taking a hot shower will help to deactivate the area as well. If there is itching, you can use Benadryl and you can use cortisone cream afterwards for local irritation at the site.

Food Poisoning

Another common problem we see during the summer is food poisoning with people on picnics or leaving food out. Remember certain foods are more predisposed to developing food poisoning. These would be any type of ham or egg salads or chicken that has been left out, so make sure you always keep everything on ice. If you do start developing diarrhea, the best treatment for that is to take Imodium, drink plenty of liquids and stay on a BRAT diet—that means bananas, rice, applesauce, toast—which will help to check the diarrhea. If you start developing vomiting with this and are not able to hold down food or liquids, you will need to follow-up with your doctor or go to the emergency department.

Potential for Drowning

Another area for injury prevention is potential for drowning. Remember to keep a close eye on all your children and toddlers if they are around any type of water, whether it is a swimming pool, the ocean or a lake or creek. It is always a good thing to give children swimming lessons as early as you can to try to prevent drowning, but the best way to prevent these is to always keep an eye on your children any time you are around water. With the advent of vibrio infections in the last several years, be aware of any rapid redness, swelling or pain that starts after a cut or puncture wound or break in the skin. If you have rapid onset of those type symptoms, you need to be seen in the emergency department promptly, especially if it occurred in salt or brackish water.