Tips to avoid the summertime blues

Family Health
May 26, 2022

St. Joseph’s/Candler Primary Care Physician Dr. Thomas Falace discusses common seasonal health concerns

In the coastal South, summer comes way before the calendar officially says so. More trips to the beach and more time spent outdoors can cause some common health concerns for people of all ages.

Dr. Thomas Falace is a primary care physician with St. Joseph’s/Candler Primary Care on the Islands. He discusses some seasonal health concerns and ways you could potentially avoid the summertime blues.

Sunburn Dr. Thomas Falace, St. Joseph's/Candler Primary Care Physician

We know the sun is unavoidable – especially in the summertime – but taking action to protect our skin from harmful UV rays may make getting skin cancer avoidable.

The best approach to sunburn is prevention, says Dr. Falace. When you are outside, whether it’s bright and sunny or cloudy, you should use sunscreen.  Dr. Falace recommends SPF 30 or higher. The bottle will tell you how often to reapply, but a good rule of thumb is every two hours, Dr. Falace says. If you are in the water or sweating, sunscreen should be applied more frequently.

Dr. Falace also suggests wide brim hats and clothing with SPF in it.

“The long term effects of repeated sunburn and sun exposure is the concern for skin cancer,” Dr. Falace says. “Particular types of skin cancer we can help prevent by making sure you are taking care of your skin.”

Related Article: Six tools to protect your skin against harmful UV rays


One of the side effects of skin burn is dehydration, which is another common concern in the summer. Dehydration can be caused by many other reasons from certain medications to gastrointestinal illnesses to kidney problems.

In the summertime, we often associate dehydration to overheating and sweating. Sweating is our body’s way of trying to decrease its temperature, Dr. Falace explains.

However, we often don’t know we are overheating and becoming dehydrated until it happens. You may be doing yard work and lounging by the pool and all of the sudden feel lightheaded or dizzy.

If this happens, it’s best to get into a cool environment and drink lots of water, Dr. Falace says. If you are doing strenuous activity or exercises outside, you may want a sports drink with electrolytes. However, for most people, water is best because we tend to get enough salt and fluid in our regular diet.

To prevent dehydration, Dr. Falace recommends drinking plenty of water before, during and after any outdoor activities. You also may want to consider using a cold, wet towel to keep your skin cool.

Related Article: Know the signs of dehydration as we face the dog days of summer


Jellyfish and stingray stings

If you’ve walked along Tybee or Hilton Head beaches often enough, chances are you’ve seen jellyfish. While they may be neat to look at, they can punch a powerful blow.

Jellyfish stings can be painful but often are not serious and can be treated right there at the beach or home. You first want to make sure the tentacles are removed from the area of the sting, Dr. Falace says. It’s best to rinse with sea water and if available submerge the area in hot water for 30 minutes. If you don’t have hot water, you can use cool water or an ice pack. Vinegar also can help, Dr. Falace says. (But urine isn’t necessary. Sorry Friends fans.)

Pain can be managed with over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol.

You will want to make sure the person who is stung remains stable and there are no systematic signs or symptoms such as swelling or throbbing pain that radiates up a leg or arm. If that happens or pain continues, then you would want to seek professional care.

Less common are stingray stings; however, there are stingrays known to be in many of our intracoastal waters and rivers. There are different types of stingrays and not all cause a tragic outcome like Steve Irwin. But their tails contain barbed spines that contain venom.

Stingrays are often considered gentle and usually only sting when surprised. If you were to get stung, Dr. Falace says to seek emergency care to ensure the barbs are properly removed and you don’t experience any systematic issues or side effects.

The best way to prevent a jellyfish or stingray sting is to shuffle your feet when walking in water, especially water you can’t see through. This will alert the creature and often they move on.

Related Article: Seven tips to protect your skin from common summertime wounds


Athletic injuries

Sprains, strains and fractures can happen to anyone year round. But some may find themselves doing more activities during the warmer months. If you are doing something on an uneven surface, for example beach volleyball, then you may be at risk for hurting an ankle or wrist. If you play golf or tennis more frequently, you may be subject to an overuse injury to the shoulder.

If you have a history of ankle, knee or wrist problems, you may want to consider a brace to try to prevent an injury from occurring, Dr. Falace advises. If it’s an overuse injury, then you could talk to your doctor about physical therapy to help keep you active and doing what you love.

Related Article: How physical therapy can help with your shoulder pain


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