Answers FAQ

Summer Skin Hazards FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Take the Summer Skin Hazards Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
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Q:What insects can carry diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever?

A:Ticks. Ticks can attach to you as you brush past grass and plants. They don't always carry diseases, and most bites aren't serious, but they can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Bites can also trigger allergic reactions. Prevent bites by keeping arms, legs, and head covered in grassy areas and use tick repellant.

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Q:Jellyfish causes intense pain, rash and welts, as well as possible vomiting and muscle spasms. True or False?

A:Jellyfish Stings . A jellyfish sting may cause intense pain, rash and welts, and may progress to vomiting and muscle spasms. Severe reactions can cause difficulty breathing, coma, and death. Box jellyfish stings require immediate medical care. Flood the area with vinegar and keep still until help arrives.

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Q:Is poison ivy really poisonous?

A:Poison Ivy . Contact with sap from poison ivy causes a rash in most people with redness and swelling followed by intense itching. Blistering appears within hours or days and can last up to two weeks. Prescription or over-the-counter medication may soothe the itching. For a severe rash, oral cortisone may be given. If infection occurs, antibiotics may be necessary.

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Q:Which one of these snakes has a venomous bite: A milk snake or a coral snake?

A:Coral Snake . Bite symptoms may include severe burning pain at the bite site, swelling, weakness, trouble breathing, and changes in heart rate. Bite severity depends on many factors, including the amount of venom injected, bite location, and a person's age and health. Seek immediate medical care if you think you've been bitten by a venomous snake.

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Q:Which packs the bigger sting: Brown recluse or black widow?

A:Brown Recluse . Usually painless, the venom is extremely poisonous (more potent than that of a rattlesnake). Symptoms of itching, nausea, vomiting, fever, and muscle pain occur 2-8 hours after a bite. May cause serious wounds and infection causing blistering blue discoloration, leading to destructive necrotic lesions with deep wide borders and scarring. Seek immediate medical care!

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Q:Flip flops are the worst shoes to wear during the summer. True or False?

A:Flip-Flops . They may be fun and fashionable, but flip-flops offer little protection against stubbed toes, glass cuts, puncture wounds, or having a heavy object smash your foot. Another danger: insect and snake bites.

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Q:What are chiggers?

A:Chigger Bites . Chiggers are tiny mites found in tall grass or weeds. They attach to skin with their claws and feed on skin cells. Their bites are painless and after a few days chiggers fall off the skin, leaving very itchy red welts. Over-the-counter products can help relieve the itch, but see a doctor if your skin appears infected or the welts spread.

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Q:What is the difference between a bee sting and a wasp sting?

A:Bee . Bees tend to have a hairy appearance, round-shaped body and are mild mannered. Most bee stings are mild, causing minor swelling, pain and itching. Remove the stinger, clean sting site, apply ice, and take an oral antihistamine. Severe allergic/anaphylactic reactions can occur requiring immediate medical care.

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Q:What is the difference between first-degree and second-degree sunburns?

A:Sunburn (Second-Degree) . Skin that is red, painful, swells up and blisters may mean that deep skin layers and nerve endings have been damaged resulting in a second-degree burn. This type of sunburn is usually more painful and takes longer to heal.

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Q:What is the main cause of skin cancer?

A:Skin Cancer . Excessive exposure to sunlight is the main cause of skin cancer. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays that can alter the genetic material in skin cells, causing mutations. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma have been linked to chronic sun exposure as has melanoma.

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Q:What causes more summertime burns: Burns from fireworks or burns from outdoor barbecue grills ?

A:Burns from Fireworks . An estimated 9,200 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2006 for injuries related to fireworks. Most injuries involved the hands, eyes, head, face, and ears. Burns were the most common injury.

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