Sunday, July 10, 2016
With summer well underway, many of us are taking to the great outdoors to make the most of the warmer weather, fresh air, and the sunshine. However, this can put people at higher risk of injury while they’re enjoying time outside. To help you stay safe while you’re outside, here’s some advice on some of the common outdoor injuries and how you can treat them.
Whether you cut your leg on a branch walking in the woods or your child grazes their knees after a fall in the park, it’s highly likely that you’ll come across some cuts and scrapes on your outdoor adventures. However, most minor injuries such as grazes, scrapes and cuts can be self-treated quickly and easily.
The first thing to do is stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the area, then with clean hands, carefully bathe the wound with water making sure to remove any dirt, grit or debris. Then gently dab the area dry and apply a sterile dressing or a plaster.
If the cut is larger or deep, or you can’t stop the bleeding, or you’ve suffered a cut to the head or the face, or the wound has become infected, you should seek medical help immediately.
Sprains can occur in a variety of activities, but doing physical activities such as walking, running or playing sports could mean you’re more likely twist your ankle or sprain your wrist.
Depending on the severity of the sprain, you should be able to treat the injury yourself. Firstly, protect the area from further injury, resting it for 48- 72 hours. During this time you should also apply ice packs wrapped in towels to reduce the heat and swelling, wear a compression bandage and keep your limb elevated. You also shouldn’t expose the injury to heat and physical activity. Avoid drinking alcohol and massaging the affected area.
An inevitable part of being outside is coming into contact with insects that can bite and sting. If you are bitten by an insect, the best thing to do is clean the affected area, apply a cold compress and avoid scratching. If the pain or swelling is more severe, you could also apply an ice pack to the area, take an antihistamine tablet or apply antihistamine, hydrocortisone or local anaesthetic sprays or creams. For the pain, a mild painkiller such as ibuprofen or paracetamol will provide relief.
If you start experiencing flu-like symptoms, have intense pain in the bite area, or it becomes infected, you should consult a doctor. However, if you have severe reactions such as difficulty breathing, swollen airways or intense itching all over your body, you should phone an ambulance straight away.
Skin ailments such as rashes, bumps and blisters come hand in hand with the outdoors. Most of these are likely to cause allergic reactions when the skin has come into contact with a stinging or poisonous plant or possibly fungal infections like ringworm. These can cause bumps, rashes and blisters to appear on the surface of the skin, but can be fairly straightforward to treat.
With fungal infections, you should seek advice from a doctor or pharmacy for antifungal creams, powders or tablets to clear up the infections.
For common stinging nettle stings, the best thing to do is find a dock leaf that typically grow close by and rub it onto the sting, which should ease the pain.
With poisonous plants like giant hogweed, the sap from the plant can cause burning blisters on the skin, so you should wash the area with soap and water right away, then allow any blisters to heal naturally.
Another factor that can cause injuries outdoors is the weather. Prickly heat is a common problem on hot summer days, as you tend to sweat more. Appearing as little red spots on the skin surface that can look like tiny blisters, it can be intensely itchy and uncomfortable. But thankfully it should clear up on its own, however, applying calamine lotion and wearing loose cotton clothing can help.
Another thing to be mindful of is sun and heat exposure that can cause sunburn, sunstroke or heat exhaustion – stay hydrated, wear sunscreen and cover up. However, if you do get sunburnt make sure you avoid being in the sun and apply a cooling after sun lotion, along with drinking water.
If your symptoms are more severe such as dizziness, weakness, nausea, low blood pressure, muscle cramps and intense sweating, you could be experiencing heat exhaustion or sunstroke. To treat this, make sure the person is laid down in a cool place; remove excess clothing and cool the skin with a damp flannel and fan them while the skin is wet. You should also make sure they drink fluids.
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