Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, a season where heightened outdoor activities can be the source of cuts, bruises, scrapes, dehydration and sunburn.
Cuts, Bruises, Insect Bites and Scrapes
Cuts and scrapes: Clean wound with cold water and mild soap. Apply crushed yarrow leaves or flowers to the injury to stop bleeding. An ice pack can help bring down swelling and reduce pain.
Bruises: Arnica Montana taken both as homeopathic sublingual pellets and applied externally to the bruise, will reduce swelling and assist with rapid resolution of “black-and-blue” discoloration.
Insect bites: Apply a compress with two to three teaspoons of dried, crushed flower buds of Calendula officinalis (a.k.a. marigold) steeped in hot water, to reduce inflammation and itching. Alternatively, a small amount of tea tree oil can be used for its antiseptic properties, or lavender oil to reduce itching at the site.
Poison Ivy or Poison Oak
Prevention is key! If you knowingly come into contact with these plants, take these steps within ten minutes of exposure:
1. Use rubbing alcohol to remove urushiol, the chemical in the sap that is the causes of the rash.
2. Thoroughly rinse the area with water.
3. Follow by washing with soap and water.
To relieve the rash and itch if more than ten minutes have passed:
1. Combine one teaspoon, tea tree oil with 6 teaspoons almond oil in a small bowl. Moisten a cotton ball and apply to the affected area.
2. Sweet fern tea: steep leaves in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes, cool, and apply to the affected area with cotton balls.
Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person loses excessive body fluids through sweating, resulting in dehydration and causing the body to overheat. Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical condition that results when heat exhaustion is left untreated and the body loses its ability to cool down.
Never underestimate the power of a hot summer day to induce dehydration and heat exhaustion. If you are on blood pressure medication, drink coffee, or other caffeinated beverages regularly or are elderly your risk of becoming dehydrated on a hot day is dramatically increased. The best medicine is prevention.
Sunburn increases your risk for developing skin cancer and prevention is key. Use waterproof sun block to protect your skin. Summer is the time to stock up on vitamin D stores and follow my safe sun-exposure tips before applying sunscreen.
Visit the Environmental Working Group’s 2011 Sunscreen Report for tips on safe and appropriate sunscreen.
If you do get sunburned, combine the following ingredients for an all-natural spray to help soothe and cool the skin. Ice packs or cool towels are also helpful for more severe cases.
Holistic sunburn spray
4 – 6 ounces (100 percent) Aloe Vera Liquid Extract
20 drops Lavender essential oil
20 drops Tea tree essential oil
20 drops Peppermint essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to mix well. Spray sunburned skin several times a day. For an extra cooling effect, keep spray in the refrigerator.
Simple Summer tips:
1. Drink plenty of water; you need more water in the summer, so aim for two liters a day and more if you exercise outdoors
2. Replenish electrolytes naturally with coconut water
3. Avoid outdoor exercise during peak-heat hours, usually between noon and 3:00 PM
4. Cool down in the shade after physical activity
5. Keep extra water on hand
6. Add water breaks to outdoor play for children
Good Morning America: Natural Remedies for Summer Injuries with Dr. Pedre
Vincent Pedre, M.D. is an Integrative, Holistic General Practitioner and Board-Certified Internist in private practice in New York City. Follow Dr. Pedre on Facebook.
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