Planning your next camping trip this summer? Check out our list of environmental hazards you should avoid this summer
Poison Ivy grows as vines or low shrubs in most climates. Each leaf on a poison ivy plant has three smaller leaflets. Contact with any part of the poison ivy plant can cause red, swollen skin, blisters and severe itching, sometimes within hours after exposure. Learn more about poison ivy.
Ragweed plants usually grow in rural areas or open meadows. Ragweed pollen is a primary cause of hay fever (allergic rhinitis). For those who are sensitive to ragweed, ragweed exposure can also cause a rash. You might notice small, itchy bumps and blisters after you come in contact with the plant. A ragweed rash usually develops within two days of exposure and resolves on its own within two to three weeks, as long as you avoid any additional ragweed exposure.
Wild parsnip grows in sunny areas, often along highways and in prairies. The plant bears large, flat clusters of yellow-green flowers on a thick stem. Sap from the wild parsnip plant—along with exposure to sunlight—can cause a burn-like reaction on the skin. Within a day after exposure, the skin turns red and may blister. The affected area, which feels like a mild to severe sunburn, often turns brown. This discoloration sometimes lasts for months.
Swimmer’s Itch is an itchy rash caused by certain parasites that normally live on waterfowl and freshwater snails. On warm, sunny days—especially in calm freshwater lakes or ponds-these parasites are released into the water and burrow into your skin. Once the parasites die you’re left with itchy, red, raised spots on your skin.
Chiggers are tiny mites found in tall grass and weeds. If you brush against infested plants, chiggers may bite and attach to your skin. After a few days the chiggers will fall off, leaving behind red, itchy skin.
Sun rashes Many people are highly susceptible to sun rash. A sun rash occurs from over exposure to intensive sunlight or from certain medications such as anti-inflammatories or antibiotics. An allergic reaction to the sun can cause solar hives, which are raised, itchy, red welts that appear five to 10 minutes after initial sun exposure.
To prevent sun rash, avoid substances that may lead to a sun rash and always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen containing UVA and UVB rays with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
Also, wearing tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs and a broad-brimmed hat will also help eliminate sun exposure.
Fire burns What is the first thing we think of when camping? Campfire and marshmallows! One thing we forget is how easy it is to burn yourself while camping. You should never light a campfire by throwing a lighted match on timber doused with lighter fluid. Always keep an eye on young children during a campfire. If you do happen to get burned the affected skin should be cooled by placing it under cold running water for at least one hour.
“Every day my patients ask me how they can prevent wrinkles and brown spots. My advice is to first and foremost protect yourself from the sun and UV rays.” –Dr. Gigler