Rapid Fire Summer Fixes

David Gale, RPh  Ritzman Pharmacist - Wadsworth Location (inside Buehler's Fresh Foods Market)

Summer brings a lot of fun! It can also bring some minor annoying ailments, issues and aches. 

Here's a quick reference of recommended fixes for some of summers more common irritations from our Ritzman pharmacist, David.

Bug Bites:  Use a repellent to avoid the bites before they happen.  To treat the itch or swelling after a bite use an oral antihistamine diphenhydramine, such as Benadryl®, topical steroid hydrocortisone 1%, such as Cortisone 10®/Cortaid®, Calamine® lotion, or a bite stick - such as AfterBite®.

Poison Ivy:  If you come in contact with poison ivy or other poisonous plants, wash the skin, clothing and any materials exposed to the plants right away.  Poison ivy is not contagious, but exposure to the plant oils can spread the rash to others. Washing will decrease exposure and spread.  Over-the-counter treatments include Calamine® lotion or Ivy Dry®, hydrocortisone cream, and an oral antihistamine diphenhydramine - such as Benadryl®.

Sunburn:  A cool bath will provide immediate relief for the skin.  Apply a moisturizing lotion or a combination lotion containing aloe and a topical anesthetic.  Give ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain.  Seek medical attention if blisters cover more than 20% of the body or if fever or chills develop.

Headaches:  Sinus headaches are best treated with a decongestant (pseudoephedrine) plus ibuprofen, such as Advil® or Motrin®, naproxen sodium like Aleve®, or acetaminophen, such as Tylenol®.  Tension headaches can be triggered by daily stresses or diet and can be treated with ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, acetaminophen or a combination product that contains an analgesic plus caffeine, like Excedrin®.  Migraine headaches can be treated with Excedrin® or Excedrin Migraine® (both contain the same ingredients acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine).  However, frequent migraine headaches may require a prescription for relief.

Heat Rash:  Heat rash can be treated by cooling the body and giving the sweat glands the opportunity to open back up.  Cool the body by taking a cool shower and/or being in an air-conditioned room.  Do not use any oil based skin products that may cause the sweat gland to become blocked.  Calamine® lotion or hydrocortisone cream may help with the rash. 

Swimmer's Ear:  Swimmer's ear can be treated by using an over-the-counter drying agent that contains isopropyl alcohol and is formulated for the ear.  The two most common products are Swim Ear® or Auro Dri®.  Ibuprofen can be used for the pain associated with swimmer's ear.

Chlorine Irritated Eyes:  Chlorine in pools can cause chemical conjunctivitis.  Flushing the eyes with warm water or an ophthalmic saline solution will help remove any chlorine irritant from the eyes.  A natural tears ointment or drops will soothe the eyes.

Dry Skin:  The summer weather can often lead to dry skin.  Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater.   Avoid taking hot steamy showers and harsh soaps as this depletes the skin of essential oils.  Use a moisturizer after bathing and being in the sun.

Allergies:  There are 3 over-the-counter antihistamines that are marketed as giving 24 hour relief and non-drowsy, these are Claritin®, Zyrtec®, and Allegra®.  All are available generically; Loratadine (Claritin®), Cetrizine (Zyrtec®), and Fexofenadine (Allegra®) with Loratadine being the most cost effective.  If an antihistamine alone is not effective, a combination of an antihistamine with a decongestant (pseudoephedrine) is recommended.   A natural homeopathic alternative is Sinusalia®.

Sore Muscles:  Over-the-counter oral anti-inflammatories include ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®) or Naproxen Sodium (Aleve®).  Homeopathic products containing Arnica (orally or topically) are recommended.  Topical muscle rubs include Arnica®, Biofreeze® or traditional sports creams such as Bengay® or Icy Hot®.