The warm sun, the fresh cut grass...if you can remember being a child in summertime, you know that minor scrapes, bumps and bruises are a part of life. But oftentimes the pain, inconvenience and cost of seeking medical care outweigh the health concerns about the injury itself.

It is not always easy for a person to judge the severity of a minor wound so they tend to wait to seek medical attention – sometimes until that minor problem has become a major one. Whether the wound is minor or major, appropriate action is key.

Fast facts:

  • Over the past thirty years more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  • Mosquitoes transmit several serious diseases including malaria, dengue, Zika and chikungunya.
  • People infected with tetanus may spend weeks in the ICU and frequently require a ventilator.

The local experts at Portsmouth Regional Hospital Wound Care Center offer the following guidance on when to seek medical treatment.

Burns: The most important thing to remember is that sunburns are entirely preventable. With the appropriate shade, clothing and sunscreen these painful burns don’t have to be a part of your summer. Unfortunately, accidents happen. Many sunburns can be treated with over-the-counter remedies, but if severe, more serious symptoms are observed. These may include: chills, dizziness, rapid breathing, nausea, extreme thirst, faintness and a rash.

Bug Bites: Insect bites may be uncomfortable, but most are harmless and can be avoided with proper insect repellant and protective clothing. However, some insect bites can result in severe reactions; especially with the presence of an allergy. Seek emergency care for insect bites if you are experiencing chest pain, swelling of the face, turning blue, nausea, cramps, vomiting, or are having difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Cuts: A minor cut or scrape will typically heal without medical intervention, but deep puncture wounds are at high risk for infection. Puncture wounds made by nails, teeth or knives are more susceptible to tetanus as the infectious bacteria is most commonly found in soil, dust, manure and saliva. Afflicted adults who have not had a tetanus vaccine in 10 years or children who have not yet been vaccinated should seek immediate professional attention to avoid the tetanus infection.

Take Extra Precaution: People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, nerve damage and vascular disease as well as the elderly and those who have had radiation therapy should pay close attention to wounds for signs of infection or failure to heal – especially those on the legs.

The skin is your fortress. When skin is broken or compromised by burns, bites or cuts it allows germs to enter your body which makes you much more susceptible to infection. Minor wounds will generally heal on their own, but every wound needs care to prevent infection. By staying vigilant you can help keep you and your family safe, happy and healthy all summer long.

For more information on treating chronic or infected wounds, contact the Portsmouth Regional Hospital Wound Care Center at 603-433-6994.