Saturday, September 23, 2017

Soothe Summer Suffering

July 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

summer suffering title

In our minds, summer seems like the most carefree of seasons. However, the reality is that there are lots more B’s in summer than just Boating and Beaches. For instance, there are these Buzzkills: Burns, Bruises, Buzzers, Bacteria, Blobs, Barfing, Barbs, Bellyaches, and Boo-Boos.

Nothing wrecks a beautiful day like a tossing deck, a stinging creature, a dive-bombing insect, the broiling sun, or proliferating microorganisms. That’s why we’ve compiled this tip-filled guide to rebuffing some of boating’s most Bothersome summer Blues (besides Bad weather, of course).

Bug Bites

Make your own repellent with oils (such as citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, or catnip) or buy a commercial bug spray (experts we interview advocate for DEET, but be mindful that it can lower the effectiveness of sunscreen). When able, wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants to expose less skin to the biters. For an extra measure of protection, eat foods made with lots of garlic!

Should a biting bug get through anyway, treatment depends on the wound (and if there’s a stinger left behind). In general, wash the area and stop swelling by holding ice cubes or an ice pack against the bite for up to 15 minutes. Then apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream or anti-itch lotion. Other remedies include a paste of water-moistened baking soda, salt, meat tenderizer, or crushed aspirin (adults only) over the dampened area.

Tick prevention begins with chemical repellent. Treatment includes careful removal of ticks found on the skin. Have a tick removal tweezer and magnifier in your first aid kit, along with a plastic zipper bag to keep the tick to show a doctor if symptoms later arise.


When you bang into something (or vice versa), apply ice immediately. If the skin is broken, cover with gauze. Elevate the area whenever possible and don’t put weight or pressure on the spot.


Rest and drink cool water with a pinch of salt. Once you’re feeling better, keep on drinking water. Eat watery fruits such as melons and vegetables such as tomatoes.

Jellyfish Stings

Avoidance is the best prevention — stay out of the water if there are any about or wear protective gear. If you’re stung, treat immediately by rinsing with seawater. If there are tentacles in the bitten area, use a stiff piece of cardboard or a credit card to rub them up and out. Then apply vinegar or isopropyl alcohol to neutralize the toxins (we hear cola works in a pinch). You may also take an oral antihistamine or apply a cortisone ointment.

Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac

Again, complete avoidance beats any treatment. Familiarize yourself with the local plants you should never touch before you explore the shore. If contact happens anyway, remove and bag up any clothing that touched the leaves and, without spreading around the rash-causing oil, rinse the skin with cool water and soap (some swear by apple cider vinegar). Ice the area and thereafter apply cortisone cream, calamine lotion, aloe vera gel, a banana peel, or a mashed-up cucumber. Do not rub on an antihistamine cream.


If you’re prone to motion sickness, start treatment before heading out for the day (the night before is the best time to start). Pick up an over-the-counter antihistamine, get a prescription for a pill or a behind-the-ear patch, stock up on ginger capsules (soda, snaps, or tea help, too), and/or acupressure bands that block nausea. Wear, take, and nibble on whatever you need to keep queasiness at bay.

If seasickness strikes while underway, position yourself outside towards the middle of the boat (a breezy, shady spot is best). Breathe deeply and either close your eyes or fix your gaze on a specific spot on the horizon. Slowly sip a cool drink to avoid dehydration.


You left half a sandwich on the deck and took a two-hour nap. It looked OK, so you finished it. You shouldn’t have done that — now you’re doubled over with stomach pains. Despite the agony, sit up, breathe deeply, apply a warm compress, take an over-the-counter stomach-soothing medication, or drink peppermint tea (iced or warm) or water with lemon.


We sound like a broken record, but you won’t need treatment if you take the proper steps to prevent skin damage before you step outside. If you wait to apply sunscreen until you leave the dock you’ve already been exposed to plenty of harmful rays. Apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher before you get dressed, and once you’re outside, reapply at least every two hours (more often if you get wet). If you miss a spot and it becomes inflamed, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen may ease some of the swelling and pain. In addition, apply a soft cloth soaked in cool water, vinegar, whole milk, or unsweetened green tea, or gently smear on aloe vera gel, or an over-the-counter cortisone cream. If available, place raw cucumber or potato slices over your well-done areas, or mash up some strawberries and lightly rub them in.

Sun Sensitivity and Heat Rash

Certain medications and treatments trigger sun sensitivity and rashes. Tell your prescribing doctor or pharmacist about your boating plans and look at the warning label on over-the-counter treatments. If there’s a risk, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, wear sun-resistant clothing, and remain in the shade. If you suffer a mild reaction, apply cool compresses and then let your skin air dry.


Ensure that the mouth and nasal passages are clear. Swallow cool water slowly and nibble on bland food as tolerated. Follow tips for seasickness and stomachache.

Man with sunburned skin and ocean beach with sunset

The tips in this article are not a substitute for medical advice. If you don’t feel prepared to handle the injury or the condition goes beyond the bounds of simple first aid, promptly call for help via your VHF radio or phone. Should the problem persist or worsen once you return to the dock, seek medical attention.


webPlus_web_green1   Is that a jellyfish? Is that poison ivy?



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