10 Summer Health Myths that Will Surprise You

10 Summer Health Myths that Will Surprise You

You’ve been looking forward to your beach trip all week, so the last thing you want to do is sit around applying and rubbing in sunscreen. Thankfully spray sunscreens are an awesome option.

Summer Health Myths that Will Surprise You

From lazy days at the beach to weekend hikes, there’s a whole lot to love about summer, but spending more time in the great outdoors means you could be running into some potential health issues. Winter gets a bad name for colds, flus and hypothermia, but summertime has dangers of its own.

Before you hit the pool or lay out in the sun, take a look at these 10 common summer myths and be ready for whatever summer throws at you.

MYTH: You Should Wear Sunscreen at All Times

You’ve heard it a billion times—“wear sunscreen”—and you diligently put it on for beach days, but the rest of the time you might be slacking on the coverage. Do you really need to wear it absolutely all the time?

REALITY: A Little Bit of Sun Exposure is Good for You

Science says no, in fact, a few minutes of unprotected exposure can bring big benefits for your health. The exact amount of time varies from person-to-person, but experts suggest starting with 10 to 15 minutes a day. Most people only need a few minutes in the sun to start taking advantage of the benefits; but you should always be careful not to let the skin burn.

MYTH: It’s Fine to Scratch Bug Bites

One of the most annoying parts of the summer—mosquito bites—can practically drive you crazy as you resist the urge to scratch. We’ve all heard mom tell us to leave them alone, but what’s the harm?

REALITY: You’re Making It Worse

It may feel good in the moment, but scratching often makes the area even itchier and you could be opening yourself up to infection. If you break the skin your fingernails could be delivering germs to the site. It’s better to put ice on the bite to bring down inflammation and soothe the itch.

MYTH: Any Drink Will Help You Hydrate

In the height of summer, with the sun beating down, sometimes all you want is a nice refreshing drink to help you hydrate and cool off. As long as it’s cold it’ll work, right?

REALITY: Some Drinks Do More Harm than Good

While an ice cold soda may seem like the perfect summer option, don’t expect it to meet your hydration needs. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas, and colas, are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration.” It’s not that you shouldn’t enjoy these drinks in the summer, just be sure to supplement with water or other hydrating fluids.

MYTH: Spray Sunscreen is a Great Option

You’ve been looking forward to your beach trip all week, so the last thing you want to do is sit around applying and rubbing in sunscreen. Thankfully spray sunscreens are an awesome option.

REALITY: Stay Away from the Spray

Both the FDA and the EWG (Environmental Working Group) agrees, spray sunscreens are likely dangerous. The EWG details the danger in its 2015 sunscreen report: “[It’s] a delivery method that the FDA has cautioned may not be safe or effective. EWG agrees. Aerosolized droplets could push sunscreen chemicals deep into the lungs where they could irritate lung tissue or pass into the bloodstream. As well, the FDA says it lacks data to prove that sprays provide the necessary thick, even skin coverage on dry skin, let alone a wet kid.” Try these safer sunscreens instead.

MYTH: A Dip in the Pool is about as Good as a Shower

Lazy summer days might lead to a few shortcuts, so to speak. So after a day by the pool, you’d rather head straight to dinner and skip the shower, no big deal right? At least you’re not covered in sweat.

REALITY: A Dip in the Pool is a Reason to Shower

Actually, swimming in a pool is not a replacement for a shower, but a reason to take one. There are some seriously disturbing things in public pools (think fecal matter, urine and up to two soda cans of sweat), but even private pools aren’t really clean. Be sure to hit the shower, preferably both before and after you swim (but definitely after).

MYTH: Eating Garlic Can Keep Mosquitos at Bay

Legend has it that garlic can help ward off vampires, so maybe it could keep other blood-suckers away?

REALITY: There Are More Effective Methods

According to research from the University of Connecticut, consuming garlic had no effect on deterring mosquitoes. The experiment had subjects ingesting garlic pills for two days and in the end the garlic didn’t help when the mosquitoes came flying. The researchers noted that long-term consumption might make a difference, but it’s far easier (and more reliable) to use bug spray and citronella candles.

MYTH: You Don’t Have to Worry about Sunburn When it’s Cloudy

The clouds roll in overhead and it looks like it’s about to rain, but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying the outdoors. On the bright side, you won’t get a sunburn if you can’t see the sun right?

REALITY: You Can Still Get Burned

Even if you don’t see the sun, you can still get burned—in fact, you can get burned in any weather. Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a board-certified dermatologist and the President and CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians, said that too many people believe their skin is safe on a cloudy day. She recommends wearing sunscreen regardless of the weather or time of day.

MYTH: Wait to Swim After Eating or You Could Cramp and Drown

The old adage that you should wait at least 30 minutes before swimming after a meal has been around for so long that it must be true, right?

REALITY: Swimming Too Soon After Eating Won’t Kill You

While it is true that digestion draws blood into your gut and there could be some minor cramping, there is no evidence or past cases of that ever killing anyone. The International Life Saving Federation completed a comprehensive review on the subject and found that eating a normal-sized meal before a swim is safe.

MYTH: No One Really Gets Struck by Lightning

Sure, you’ve seen it in the movies, but who actually gets struck by lightning, right?

REALITY: It Happens Far More Often than You Think

Actually an average of 49 people die each year in the U.S. after being struck, according to the National Weather Service, and for every one death there are nine other people who have varying degrees of injury as a result of being struck, many of those injuries turn into lifelong disabilities. It’s a big problem and despite warnings, people think it won’t happen to them. Remember the old adage, “when thunder roars, go indoors,” and be alert, especially in these 10 lightning-prone states.

MYTH: The Best Way to Stop a Shark Attack is by Punching It in the Nose

These fascinating giants of the sea are so interesting that they’ve earned a whole week of programming on the discovery channel and, unfortunately, more than their fair share of myths. Though being the victim of a shark attack is extremely unlikely—your odds are one in 11.5 million, according to the International Shark Attack File—many people have a very real fear of sharks. Rumor has it a swift punch to the nose is the best way to stun a shark.

REALITY: You Have a Better Shot at Escape by Going for the Eyes

Experts say that punching the shark in the nose is not the way to go. For one, it will be pretty tough to pull back and punch with the resistance of the water and two, your hand could easily miss its target and end up shredded by shark teeth. Instead you should claw or jab at the eyes or gills, both sensitive spots on the shark. Keep it up and the shark will soon decide you’re not worth the trouble.