Summer Fun in the Sun

It’s July and that means lots of outdoor fun… and way too much hot Texas sun! Fortunately, we have lots of ways to beat the heat here in and around McCulloch County.

  • Shady public parks with protective oaks
  • Brady’s Aquatic Complex at Richard’s Park
  • Our beautiful Brady Lake
  • Friends with inviting private pools
New play equipment at Willie Washington Park

Our historic Willie Washington Park is sporting new play equipment, thanks to a generous grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The best times to visit any of our parks in the hot, hot summer is in the morning and early evening. In between, take cover in the shade of those beautiful big oaks! Or head for home and the AC and have a nice long siesta.

Why is it so important to avoid the direct sun?

Exposure to our warm, welcoming Mr. Sunshine is the greatest cause of skin cancer, although exposure to environmental hazards, radiation treatment and what’s simply in your DNA can play a role.

Ask anyone over 60 years of age who spent most of their youth out in the sunshine, and they’ll tell you that sunscreen wasn’t a big deal when they were a kid. It was all about getting a tan. “Alas, if we had only known…” That’s why dermatologists see so much skin cancer and pre-cancers on them now. The rich varieties of sunscreens at high SPF numbers we see today simply weren’t available.

The risk of getting skin cancer is greatest for people who have:

  • Fair skin or light-colored eyes
  • An abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles
  • A family history of skin cancer
  • A history of excessive sun exposure or blistering sunburns
  • Lived at high altitudes or places with year-round sunshine
  • Received radiation treatments

Sun Safety Check-List

  • Limit your exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when those rays are strongest.
  • While outdoors, liberally apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher (don’t forget the lips and ears!)
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses, and cover up with light clothing.
  • And remember, if you notice changes to your skin such as a new growth, a mole changing appearance, or a sore that won’t heal, see a doctor right way.
Brady Lake is looking especially sunny

As you age, it becomes progressively important to check yourself and loved ones routinely for changes in the skin. Start visiting a qualified dermatologist as soon as noticeable changes occur because most cancers can be cured if they are detected and removed early.

The most common of these are pre-cancerous lesions called Actinic Keratosis, or solar keratosis, or “AKs” for short. They are not yet cancer, but could become serious over time and are easily removed by a dermatologist, or your primary care physician. Senior adults often develop AKs, which are small, scaly patches that usually occur on the head, neck, or hands, but can be found elsewhere. They’re often an early warning sign of skin cancer. Don’t worry, most AKs do not become cancerous, but doctors recommend early treatment to prevent the development of squamous cell skin cancer. Removal is normally covered by Medicare and most other insurance plans.

The most dangerous skin cancers include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Pictures and descriptions of these various cancers can be found on two notable websites. Check them out so you know what to look for:

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/skin-cancer/basics/definition/con-20031606
Slide show on WebMD’s site: http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/ss/slideshow-skin-lesions-and-cancer

On the look out for moles

Moles are the other thing to keep a close eye on. Unlike AKs, most moles develop in youth or young adulthood. It’s unusual to acquire a mole in the adult years, so if you see a new one, it should probably be looked at.

A mole (nevus) is a benign growth of melanocytes, which are cells that gives skin its color. Although very few moles become cancer, abnormal or atypical moles can develop into melanoma over time. “Normal” moles can appear flat or raised or may begin flat and become raised over time. The surface is typically smooth. Moles that may have changed into skin cancer are often irregularly shaped, contain many colors, and are larger than the size of a pencil eraser.

When in doubt, it’s always good to have your doctor look at it.

Heat Rash

Good old heat rash is one thing you don’t have to worry about. It’s quite normal and unless it gets severe, you don’t even have to go see the doctor. Here in Texas, we all know what heat rash is, otherwise known as prickly rash. It’s when our moist heat blocks your pores.

Here are some summertime tips to help your heat rash heal and make you more comfortable:

  • Dress in loose, lightweight clothing that helps keep moisture away from your skin
  • Spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned buildings
  • Bathe or shower in cool water with nondrying soap, then let your skin air-dry instead of toweling off
  • Use calamine lotion or cool compresses to calm itchy, irritated skin
  • Avoid using creams and ointments that contain petroleum or mineral oil, which can block pores further

Enjoy the summer!

Amelia Jane Huffman and her Dad enjoying Brady’s Aquatic Complex at Richard’s Park

Most of all… have fun out there! What’s the point of worrying about sun safety, if you’re not enjoying yourself. So remember to safely soak up what you can during these summer months and use good sense when it comes to having fun in the sun and heat.

And next time you’re headed to the pool, stop by City Drug for some waterproof sunscreen. Or just a break from the heat.

 

 

 


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We hope you enjoy the City Drug Monthly Health Tips.
Leave us a comment on Facebook or stop by the pharmacy and share your thoughts.
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The Truth about Texas Ticks

June could be thought of as the beginning of tick season, but that’s only because they’re in their tiny ‘hard to spot’ nymph stage, and June is when we humans are out in our gardens and the woods… looking very tasty to a tick.

Check Yourself

Brady EMS Toby Smith and Priscilla Campbell demonstrate the correct way to remove a tick.

This time of the year it’s important to do a routine “Tick Check” on yourself and any children in your care after being in a possible tick-laden habitat. If you spot one that’s gotten “lock on” use tweezers to carefully remove it, tweezing as close to the skin as possible, slowly pulling the tiny tick straight out. Then you can crush it or flush the tick down the toilet.

Ignore folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with liquid or gel or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible, not wait for it to detach. Heat may actually stimulate the tick to salivate, which is how it could transmit any disease it may have into your bloodstream. Put exposed clothes in a dryer in high heat to kill undiscovered ticks.

Wait, Did You Say Disease?

The latest official updates on tick-borne infectious diseases and diseases of animals that can be transmitted to humans, by way of a tick vector (e.g. zoonoses) can be found on a highly informative website run by the US government’s Center for Disease Control. Specifically on their latest “Grand Rounds” program featuring four notable tick disease experts. The webcast (with continuing education credits) is recommended for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, other healthcare providers and teachers… and for those who just want to be really well-informed.
https://www.cdc.gov/cdcgrandrounds/archives/2017/March2017.htm

First, here are three helpful definitions for those new to the field:

    1. Zoonoses: a disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals.
    2. Vector: In medicine, a carrier of disease or of medication. For example, in malaria a mosquito is the vector that carries and transfers the infectious agent. In molecular biology, a vector may be a virus or a plasmid that carries a piece of foreign DNA to a host cell. But let’s stick with ticks for now.
    3. Ticks: Not insects. They, like mites, are small arachnids (like spiders). Ticks live by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Scientists know the most about the oldest known tick-borne diseases:

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
  • Lyme disease

…But relatively newer ones they’re watching closely include:

  • Powassan virus (deer tick virus) widespread in our Northern and NE states
  • Heartland virus and Bourbon virus widespread in Southern and SE states

The CDC recommends the antibiotic DOXYCYLINE for treating all tick-borne rickettsioses in humans of all ages, including children. If administered within the first five days of infection, tick-borne diseases are curable with doxycycline. The CDC has advocated this specific tetracycline for two generations.

An excellent CDC Primer on Lyme disease can be found on: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/index.html, which includes a relevant fact important to those who hunt deer and prepare venison: You will NOT get Lyme disease from eating venison that may have been bitten.

Specific to Central Texas, an excellent tick update from Texas A&M can be found on: http://citybugs.tamu.edu/2016/01/27/lyme-disease-ticks-in-texas/

What’s The Risk?

This is optimum tick habit. They’re patiently waiting in the brush and tall grass for their next victim to wander by, so check clothing and skin for ticks, preferably before going indoors.

Note that McCulloch County is not a designated vulnerable blue zone, but some of our neighbor counties are, and sometimes that’s only because cases haven’t been reported.

Not all tick bites carry disease. If you develop a fever or experience flu-like symptoms soon after having been bitten, that’s when to hightail it to the doctor!

Ticks acquire the diseases by first feeding on infected small critters like mice, squirrels, birds, amphibians and reptiles. From there they feed greedily on larger animals, especially deer, other wildlife, dogs and livestock. In the winter, when horses and cattle provide thick fur coats, the adult ticks can easily be detected, removed and disposed of.

Our Hometown Ticks

Here in Central Texas we have all the primary species of ticks that cause the majority of diseases:

  • Blacklegged (deer) tick
  • Lone Star tick
  • American dog tick
  • Brown dog tick

Click on the above CDC and Texas A&M websites for identifying pictures and details. Ticks can’t fly or jump, but simply lie in wait, clinging to leaves and grasses by their third and fourth pairs of legs, using the front pair to grasp and climb on any passing host. In the small nymph stage, they’re close to the ground, while adults can climb higher into vegetation. They choose their victims by detecting animal breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture and vibrations.

You usually don’t feel a tick bite. The first sign is often redness around the site of the bite. Other symptoms that follow may include itchiness and burning, but some people don’t even experience that. If a “bulls-eye” redness appears around the bite area, it was probably a deer tick. Again, if fever and flu-like symptoms begin, that’s when to seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

A Tick’s Enemy is a Friend of Yours

Peafowl, guineafowl, and good old barnyard chickens are excellent tick hunters.

Few cases of tick-borne disease have been reported in Brady, McCulloch County and our surrounding areas but we’re just as likely to get Lyme disease or other viruses or harmful bacteria from ticks as anywhere else. One of the reasons we’re fortunate in not yet having a tick epidemic is our abundance of their natural enemies, which can easily spot a tick:

  • Wild turkey
  • Peafowl
  • Chickens
  • Roadrunners
  • Quail
  • Guinafowl
  • Other bug-eating ground birds

Be sure to thank any of these tick-hungry birds when you see them out hunting!

Our native wild turkeys are great tick eaters with their excellent “bug sight” and June is the month when the mothers show off their little ones.

Repellent Options

We carry a variety of repellants to help keep you tick-free this summer.

Repellent dog collars are a must on dogs that go outdoors. Humans need to spray with 20-30% DEET repellent when taking those walks in the woods… or even just gardening. Spraying outdoor clothing with permethrin helps too. Permethrin is the active ingredient in many commercial sprays and is used extensively on livestock to repel and kill ticks and flies and will not stain clothes. It can be found in concentrate form at our local feed stores.

 

Be safe; Have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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We hope you enjoy the City Drug Monthly Health Tips.
Leave us a comment on Facebook or stop by the pharmacy and share your thoughts.
We always look forward to hearing from our neighbors!