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  Home » Newsletter » Debunking Summer Health Myths, August 2013

Debunking Summer Health Myths

Debunking Summer Health MythsWhether you’ve been told to wait after a meal to swim, or to slather butter on your skin to relieve sunburn pain, you’ve probably heard your fair share of wives’ tales on how to stay healthy during the summer. While some beliefs, such as scratching a mosquito bite can lead to an infection, are true, others such as poison ivy being contagious aren’t true. Recently Medicine.net and Healthy Living debunked some of these myths so you can safely enjoy your favorite summer pastimes.

Don’t swim after eating

It used to be that parents made their children wait at least 30 minutes after eating to go swimming to avoid severe cramps that would lead to drowning. While swimming after eating a big meal may be uncomfortable, it won’t cause you to drown. The common belief that during digestion the body diverts blood to the digestive tract and away from arms and legs (affecting one’s ability to swim) is unfounded. While it’s true that the digestive process needs extra blood to aid in digestion, it doesn’t divert enough blood away from your arm and leg muscles to keep them from functioning properly. There’s a possibility that one could develop a cramp while swimming with a full stomach, but it’s usually minor and a person swimming in a pool or at a safe distance from shore could exit the water and rest.

Dark-skinned people don’t need sunscreen

While light-skinned people are more sensitive to the effects of the sun’s UV rays, those with darker skins can still be affected by damaging UV radiation. While dark skin does offer more natural protection from the sun’s harmful rays than light skin, dark skin isn’t immune to the damage caused by the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone regardless of skin color routinely wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.

You can’t get sunburned on a cloudy day

Don’t mistake an overcast sky for a free pass to not wear sunscreen. You need to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days. UV rays penetrate right through clouds leaving unprotected skin vulnerable.

Air conditioning can give you a cold

For years, many believed the old wives’ tale that sleeping in a room with air conditioning increases your chances of catching a cold. Rest assured knowing that the soothing blast of cold air cooling your bedroom won’t leave you coughing and sneezing. Colds are caused by viruses, not by cold air. If you suffer from allergies, however, an unclean vent can lead to mold that can exacerbate your allergies. Regularly check your air conditioner vent to keep allergies at bay.

Butter eases sunburn

Save your butter for your baking. Minor to moderate sunburn — when the skin is red and the feeling is normal — can be treated with Aloe vera gel or lotion, or a topical hydro-cortisone cream. Cool compresses made of a mixture of cool water and milk left on for 10-15 minutes at a time can also help take some of the sting out. Taking ibuprofen helps to diminish inflammation and pain. If your skin is blistered or severely burned, contact your doctor for treatment advice.

Poison ivy is contagious

Poison ivy rash is caused by urushiol — oil found in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. A poison ivy rash itself isn’t contagious. A blistery rash doesn’t contain urushiol (the rash is merely an unsightly reaction to the oil) and therefore, won’t spread to other people. You can’t get poison ivy from another person unless you've had immediate, direct contact with urushiol that’s still on a person or on his or her clothing.

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