Top 10 Summer Health Myths Debunked

As a means to better prepare you for a summer of worry-free fun, we are debunking these top ten summer health myths:

Myth #1: Going in and out of air-conditioned buildings can make you sick.
According to Neil Schachter, M.D., pulmonologist and author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu, congestion or sniffling is often a sign of allergies, as opposed to a cold. "People who have allergies -- even small sensitivities -- may be affected when moving from a clean-air environment into one that's full of Mother Nature's irritants," he says. To defend against allergies, stay inside on humid days, when allergies are strongest, and keep your home dust free by cleaning your AC filter once a month. (Women’s Health)

Myth #2: A Sunburn Will Fade into a Tan
“Sunburn is a burn, not a prerequisite stage for a tan” (CBS News). Sunburns only result in skin damage, leading to premature aging and an increased risk for skin cancer.  Even “healthy” amounts of sun exposure can damage the skin and put you at greater health risks. To avoid sunburn, use protective lotion with a high SPF number, even when in the shade. If it is too late, and find your skin to be burned, treat it with aloe vera or another soothing lotion. (CBS News)

Myth #3: Mosquitoes are Attracted to "Sweet Skin"
While mosquitoes are in fact attracted to some people over others (generally, mosquitos are attracted to one-out-of-ten people), there is no such thing as “sweet skin.”  Mosquitos do, however, prefer sweet, flowery, or fruity scents and dark clothing.  Unless you want to attract mosquitoes, stay away from perfumes or heavily scented lotions, deodorants, and hair products and wear mosquito repellent for extra protection. (CBS News)

Myth #4: Campfire/Grill Smoke Is Not Dangerous
“Smoke inhalation increases your risk of cancer, and unfortunately, the type of smoke doesn't really matter.  According to Clean Air Revival Inc.'s website, the Environmental Protection Administration estimates that wood smoke is 12 times more carcinogenic than equal amounts of tobacco smoke, and that it stays active in the body up to 40 times longer than tobacco smoke” (CBS News).

Myth #5: "Wait a half hour after eating before you can safely go swimming."
Our mothers were wrong. The likelihood of someone drowning from swimming right after a heavy meal is the same as the likelihood of someone dying from blinking too much. “As with any exercise after eating, swimming right after a big meal might be uncomfortable, but it won't cause you to drown” (Medicine Net).

Myth #6: "Dark-skinned people don't need sunscreen."
“People with lighter skins have less melanin, the pigment that absorbs UV radiation and protects skin, than darker-skinned people. While light-skinned people will be very sensitive to the effects of UV rays from the sun, those with darker skin can still be affected by damaging UV radiation.” (Medicine Net). To prevent skin damage, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends regular use of a sunscreen with at least an SPF 15 for dark-skinned people.

Myth #7: Flip-flops are kind to your feet.
The average flip-flop does not provide the proper support for your feet, according to Manhattan-based foot doctor Jacqueline Sutera, D.P.M. “Wearing them all summer, every summer could lead to pinched foot nerves, heel pain, tendinitis, and strained arches. If you can't quit flops entirely, buy ones that have at least a three-quarter-inch semi-cushioned sole and built-in arch support” (CBS News).

Myth #8: Saltwater Helps Wounds Heal
Have you ever been told to dunk a wound in salt water while at the beach for faster healing? Doing so is counterintuitive and can lead to other health concerns. “The sea is FULL of bacteria that can enter your cut and cause sores or even lead to infection. Not only does saltwater not help heal a wound, it does NOT clean it out properly, either.” (CITE SOURCE). While gargling with salt water may sooth a sore or swollen throat by helping the cells in your mouth release water, the salt does not act as an antibacterial agent, according to The British Dental Journal (2004).

Myth #9: Urinating on a Jellyfish Sting Helps Ease the Pain
If you have done this in the past, we’re sorry to inform you, this is a myth.  “It doesn't help at all, and in some cases, could even make it worse by setting off the remaining stinging cells, increasing the discomfort. Urine is too much like freshwater, and freshwater will react to the chemicals in the tentacles, increasing the likelihood of greater pain” (CITE SOURCE).  Wiping the site of the sting with vinegar is much more productive.

Myth #10: A dip in the pool can do double duty as a shower.
Unless you don’t mind the thought of diarrhea, infection, or rash-inducing bacteria all over your body, you should rinse with soap after taking a dip in the pool.  Because the average person does not shower or rinse before entering a pool, personal-care products, makeup, and sweat mix with chlorine, deactivating its bacteria-killing properties (ABC News).