By: Holly L. Thacker, MD
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we are in the “dog days of summer,” that is the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In astronomy, the dog star, Sirius, is the brightest star in the night sky and rises with the sun.
Summer fun is a time of sunshine, heat, water, long days, picnics, and carefree recreation. So as you enjoy watching the Olympic athletes and savoring this summer, be sure to stay healthy.
1. Keep hydrated
Heat can be deadly and is much more lethal in the very young and the very old. Staying well hydrated helps to reduce heat illness and it is also very important to acclimate to hot environments. It does not have to be raining to use your umbrella. Make a fashion statement! Protect your eyes from UV damage and cool with your shades.
2. Use broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen, daily, liberally, and re-apply
My personal favorite is “Antheliosis 60 melt in sunscreen milk,” as it acts not only as a broad spectrum sunscreen but as an illuminizer. Many women apply sunscreen only to their face but forget their neck and décolleté area. These areas are simply an extension of your face and by not protecting your skin, you are aging yourself before your time. You want to keep your skin looking radiant, healthy and with a lit from within glow. Speaking of glowing women, pregnant women are most at risk for developing blotchy pigment on face and forehead called melasma. I realized I had developed this during my first pregnancy when someone told me, during one of those dogs days of summer, to “wipe the dirt off my forehead.” It wasn’t dirt. Melasma, can be treated but will come back with any UV light exposure.
3. Don’t skip your exercise routine
You may need to change where you exercise and avoid the peak heat and humidity, but don’t get lazy.
4. At dawn and dusk, be especially vigilant about mosquitoes
The second case of the potentially deadly West Nile encephalitis was just reported in Cleveland. Clear out standing water, use insect repellant, fix broken screens, and spray your clothes (NOT skin) with permethrin.
5. Know how to identify the poison ivy and poison sumac
See your physician if rash is extensive or involves the face. Do not apply Benadryl or Caladryl to the skin. Applying plain calamine and cool compresses is fine, but topical Benadryl can be a skin sensitizer. If you require prednisone therapy from your physician to treat the itchy dermatitis, likely you will need to take for 3 weeks, not 7 days.
6. Always observe water safety rules
Do not swim alone. Bring and wear life-jackets on the boat when water-skiing. Boating and drinking alcohol don’t mix.
7. Don’t forget to read a summer sizzler
Reading is great for the brain.
Speaking of Women’s Health