Here are some tips for helping you and your family be beach smart this year.
How fast and how severely you burn depends on genetics, prior sun exposure, sun intensity and length of exposure.
Severity: First degree (skin redness)
Second degree (skin blistering)
Prevention: Seek shade mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Use a sun block with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or more.
Treatment: Cool wet compresses, topical aloe vera gel, anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen. You should avoid sun exposure after a sunburn. Because of the risk of allergic reactions, avoid topical anesthetics containing benzocaine. For severe sunburns, an ER visit is advised for treatment with steroids and stronger pain medications.
These flat fish have whip-like tails with sharp barbs that can break off.
Severity: Barb injects painful venom that can spread up the extremity. Barbs may break off and remain in your foot or leg.
Prevention: To avoid disturbing the stingrays, shuffle your feet while you are wading in the surf.
Treatment: Soak the extemity 30 to 90 minutes in hot water to neutralize the venom. When the pain lessens, cleanse the wound and apply topical antibiotics. Visit the emergency room if the pain persists, barb breaks off and embeds, wound becomes infected or your tetanus immunization is more than five years old.
These creatures vary in size and may be nearly invisible (clear) or brightly colored. They can be found floating in the water or beached along the shoreline. Many have spring-loaded glands called nematocysts that sting the skin, releasing venom.
Severity: Pain can range from mild to severe. Serious reactions include chest pain, vomiting, shortness of breath or generalized hives. Some reactions may be life-threatening.
Prevention: Avoid jellyfish in the water and don't walk barefoot near beached jellyfish.
Treatment: Remove undischarged nematocysts by flushing with ocean water NOT tap water or bottled water as these may rupture the nematocysts. Spray on shaving cream and scrape off the nematocysts with a plastic card. Apply vinegar compresses to soothe. Diphenhydramine capsules (like Benadryl) can help. Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream two to three times a day. Seek treatment in the nearest emergency room if you have a severe reaction such as chest pain, vomiting, or shortness of breath.
Shells can have very sharp edges and can leave fragments in wounds.
Severity: From minor scrapes to deeper wounds with imbedded debris or shell pieces that may be painful and hard to locate.
Prevention: Avoid handling with bare hands. Avoid walking barefoot on shell banks.
Treatment: Cleanse minor wounds of foreign particles. Topical antibiotics are recommended. For deeper wounds, come to the emergency room for foreign body evaluation, antibiotics, wound closure and tetanus shot update.