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Tammy Swift, Published July 06 2009

Summer bugs: A guide to treating everything from ticks to sunburn to poison ivy

We’ll brave any number of outdoor hazards to enjoy our short-lived fun in the sun.

After all, when summer is just three months long, you have to hike, bike, swim and soak up sun while you can.

The downside to this guerilla-style recreation: bug bites, ticks, sunburn, poison ivy, swimmer’s itch and heat exhaustion.

Here, Vonda Eidenschink, a physician’s assistant with MeritCare’s Fast Track clinics, shares her expertise on remedying these common summer complaints. She tells us what we can do at home – and when we should seek professional help.

Swimmer’s itch

Home Rx: This unsightly, irritating dermatitis is caused by parasites found in lake water. They burrow into the skin and die, causing the body’s immune response to kick in and produce red, swollen, extremely itchy papules.

If exposed to lake water in early summer, you should towel off vigorously afterward – although it’s possible for the parasite to burrow in while you’re still in the water.

An antihistamine such as Benadryl will help reduce itching, as will hydrocortisone creams, calamine lotion and a soothing bath treatment with natural colloidal oatmeal, such as Aveeno.

When to seek professional help: If you notice pus at the rash site or the rash lasts more than a week, see a doctor. A physician can prescribe a topical steroid cream or an oral steroid.

Click on the photo gallery to see more remedies.

Readers can reach Forum reporterTammy Swift at (701) 241-5525