Bye-Bye, Summer Buzzkills!
We picture summers as non-stop fun, but bothersome joy-spoilers are everywhere. Nothing wrecks a day like a tossing deck, floating creature, swarming insect, broiling sun, or proliferating bacteria. However, we know simple ways to ease the summer blues… and reds… and greens.
Make your own repellent with oils (such as citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, or catnip) or buy a commercial bug spray (though many experts advocate for DEET, we’re not fond of it for many reasons, including that it lowers the effectiveness of sunscreen). Wear light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and long pants. And for an extra measure of protection, serve foods made with lots of garlic!
Should a biting bug get through anyway, treatment depends on the wound (and if there’s a stinger left behind). In general, wash the area and stop swelling by holding ice cubes or an ice pack against the bite for up to 15 minutes. Then apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream or anti-itch lotion. Other remedies include a paste of water-moistened baking soda, salt, meat tenderizer, or crushed aspirin (adults only) over the dampened area.
When you bang into something (or vice versa), apply ice immediately. If the skin is broken, cover with gauze. Elevate the area whenever possible and don’t put weight or pressure on the spot.
Rest and drink water with a pinch of salt. Once you’re feeling better, keep drinking water.
The best prevention is to avoid going in the water or wear protective gear if you do go in. If you’re stung, treat immediately by rinsing with sea water before coming back aboard. If there are tentacles in the bitten area, use a stiff piece of cardboard or a credit card to rub them up and out. Then apply vinegar or isopropyl alcohol to neutralize the toxins (we hear cola works in a pinch). You may also take an oral antihistamine or apply a cortisone ointment.
Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac
The best treatment is complete avoidance, so familiarize yourself with the plants you should never touch before you leave the boat to explore the shore. If contact was made with the leaves, remove and bag up any clothing that may have made contact and rinse the area with cool water and soap (some swear by apple cider vinegar) but don’t spread the rash-producing oil around. Ice the area and then apply cortisone cream, calamine lotion, aloe gel, a banana peel, or a mashed-up cucumber. Do not rub on an antihistamine cream.
Those who are prone to motion sickness should start treatment before heading out for the day. Pick up an over-the-counter antihistamine, get a prescription for a pill or a behind-the-ear patch, stock up on ginger capsules (soda, snaps, or tea help, too), and/or acupressure bands that block nausea. Wear, take, and nibble on whatever you need to keep queasiness at bay.
If seasickness strikes while underway, position yourself outside towards the middle of the boat (a breezy, shady spot is best). Breathe deeply and either close your eyes or fix your gaze on a specific spot on the horizon. Slowly sip a cool drink to avoid dehydration.
You knew you shouldn’t finish a sandwich you started two hours ago, after you left it on the deck to go swimming and then take a nap. But you did, and now you’re in distress. Sit up, breathe deeply, apply a warm compress, take an over-the-counter stomach-soothing medication, or drink peppermint tea or water with lemon either iced or warm.
Treatment won’t be necessary if you take steps to prevent skin damage before you leave home. It’s unwise to wait to apply sunscreen until you leave the dock — you’ve already been exposed to harmful rays while in the car, walking to the boat or riding the launch, and loading on supplies. Apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher before you get dressed, and once you’re outside, reapply at least every two hours (more often if you get wet). If you miss a spot and become sunburned, apply a soft cloth soaked in cool water, vinegar, whole milk, or unsweetened green tea to the affected area. Relief can also come from aloe vera gel, an over-the-counter cortisone cream, or one containing menthol or camphor. Place raw cucumber or potato slices over your well-done areas or mash up some strawberries and rub them in. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen may also ease some of the swelling and pain.
Sun Sensitivity and Heat Rash
Certain medications and treatments can cause sun sensitivity and rashes. Tell your prescribing doctor or pharmacist about your boating plans or look at the warning label on over-the-counter treatments. If there’s a risk, apply sunscreen, wear sun-resistant clothing, and remain in the shade. If you suffer a mild reaction, apply cool compresses and then let your skin air dry.
Ensure that the mouth and nasal passages are clear. Swallow cool water slowly and nibble on bland food as tolerated. Follow tips for seasickness and stomachache.