A trio of guests on this episode of Health Matters with Doylestown Health helps explain how to stay safe outdoors in the summer – and all year long. Hosts Ashley Heidler, Pediatric Outreach manager with Doylestown Health, and Joe Johnson, CB South High School student, lead the discussion.
Taking care of ticks
Robert Linkenheimer, DO, Medical Director of the Doylestown Hospital Emergency Department, knows firsthand that ticks are widespread this area. As a young boy growing up in the local community, his mother had him get a crew cut each summer so she could spot ticks more easily.
"The biggest thing after you've been outside is to do a thorough check on yourself for ticks, or have someone do a check on you - especially your hair," notes Dr. Linkenheimer.
Outdoor Summer Health and Safety
Lyme disease is often transmitted through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick. Pennsylvania has led the nation in confirmed cases of Lyme disease for three straight years and deer ticks are found in each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Even if you wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants, it's important to check yourself or your loved one, advises Dr. Linkenheimer. The same thing goes for pets, too. Lyme disease can affect dogs as well as people.
If you do find a tick, it's best to remove it with a pair of tweezers, grabbing the tick near its mouth and pulling straight up. Don't squeeze the tick itself, which can lead to exposure to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
If a deer tick is removed within the first 36 hours, the risk of Lyme disease is extremely low, notes Dr. Linkenheimer.
It usually takes a couple weeks before a person develops symptoms of Lyme disease, which are similar to the flu – achy, slightly feverish. The classic bull's- eye rash as well as an elliptical shaped rash are associated with Lyme disease.
If bitten, an individual should monitor the area for the next month. If symptoms develop, consult a physician. In rare cases, people develop arthritis or chronic migraines, but usually antibiotics can take care of the problem.
Staying safe around animals
Danny Hontz is the director of youth development for the Central Bucks Family YMCA. He knows how tempting it can be for a child to get up close and personal with wildlife. "Encountering wildlife is an amazing experience. To ensure that you and the animal stay safe, it's best to do it at a distance. All creatures, humans and animals alike, will protect themselves and their families if threatened, so never put yourself in a spot where an animal might think you are trying to hurt it. That way, everyone can have a positive outdoor experience," says Danny.
Get ready for your day outside
When preparing to spend time outdoors, it's a good idea to remember some basics that will keep you from getting sunburned, which can ruin a good time.
Dress in loose, breathable clothes, wear a hat and sunglasses. And use sunscreen. Not just use it, but reapply often. Children usually sunburn before adults, so if you're sunburned your child is already there.
Reapplying is important especially if you're sweating or swimming, notes Ashley. Even the 'waterproof' sunscreens wear off, so always re-slather after you're in the water. Dry off first so your skin can absorb the lotion. If you're using a bug repellant, put sunscreen on first then apply the repellant.
Our Health Matters guests discuss lots of other topics during the episode, including water safety, bee stings and mosquito bites, good hydration habits and dealing with poison ivy.
About Pediatric Services
Doylestown Health is committed to providing family-centered children's services to Bucks and Montgomery County communities. The Carol and Louis Della Penna Pediatric Center offers expert inpatient care to all ages including infants, children and teens. Della Penna Pediatric Center Services extend beyond the hospital setting to include health and wellness education, nutrition services and other support services.