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Apr 01

How to Stay Well this Spring

Posted on April 1, 2022 at 8:24 AM by Bridget Craker

With any new season comes additional considerations for a person’s health. During springtime in Wisconsin, we can experience severe weather, flooding, allergies, ticks and insect bites, sun exposure, accidental injuries and many other issues. Many of these issues can be prevented, and we can prepare for those we can’t prevent. Keep the following tips in mind over the next couple of months to help keep yourself and your loved ones healthy this spring.

As temperatures warm up the insects we haven’t seen for several months begin to emerge, including ticks. Ticks can spread diseases to humans including Lyme Disease and others. Lyme disease can cause a rash, often in a bull's-eye pattern, as well as flu-like symptoms. There are many steps that you can take to prevent tick bites. To start with, when you’re going to be outdoors, use insect repellent on exposed skin. You can also apply permethrin (a pesticide that kills ticks) to clothes, shoes, and gear. Wear light colored clothing so that you can spot ticks, and wear long sleeves and long pants. If you have long enough socks on, you can tuck the bottom of your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from getting into your socks or pants. When you’re on a trail walk in the center to avoid brushing up against grass or branches that ticks may be on.

After spending time outdoors be sure to check yourself for ticks.  Check all parts of your body carefully, especially the armpits, behind the knees, scalp, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, and groin. If you need to remove a tick you should grasp the tick with narrow-bladed tweezers as close as possible to your skin, and pull upward and out with firm, steady tension. If a tweezer is not available you can use your fingers covered in tissue paper or rubber gloves. After removing the tick use rubbing alcohol to clean the bite.

Dogs are also susceptible to diseases spread by ticks, and your dog could bring ticks into your home. This is why it’s important to use a tick prevention product on your dog, talk to your veterinarian about what product would be best for your dog. Be sure to check your dog for ticks as well.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and sun damage to your skin can contribute to skin cancer. As we all spend more time outdoors in the sun, and the sun is out longer each day it’s important to take actions to protect your skin. Small steps like applying sun screen and staying out of direct sunlight can go a long away to prevent skin damage. Apply broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays and is SPF 15 or higher when you’re going to be spending time outside. You should reapply sunscreen every two hours, and after going swimming. Sunscreen works best when it’s combined with other options. Stay in the shade under a tree, umbrella, or shelter when you’re able to. You can also block the sun by wearing a hat, and clothing. When you’re able to – wear long sleeves and long pants since they can provide more protection from the sun. To shield your eyes from the sun’s rays, keep sun glasses on hand, glasses that block both UVA and UVB rays are best.

The beautiful plants that bloom and turn green in spring can also lead to discomfort because of allergies. Pollen grains are tiny “seeds” dispersed from flowering plants, trees, grass, and weeds – and it is an allergen that can affect our health. Allergy symptoms can include red, watery, or itchy eyes, as well as sneezing, runny nose, and congestion. People with asthma can be especially sensitive to pollen, and these allergens can even trigger an asthma episode. Other factors can also lead to poor air quality and allergy-like symptoms in the spring. With increased rainfall and rising temperatures, the growth of mold indoors can increase, which may lead to worsened respiratory conditions for people with asthma and/or mold allergies and heightened challenges in maintaining adequate asthma control. To prevent these symptoms, you should take your allergy and/or asthma medications as prescribed by your health care provider. You can also check pollen counts online or on the local news in the morning to help you prepare for the day. When you are outside, avoid touching your eyes and be sure to wash your hands or even shower when you head back inside.

Hopefully you can get out and enjoy the sunshine, warmer temperatures and beautiful natural areas that we have in our community this spring, all while using these tips to stay healthy!