Tag Archives: summer health

What You Should Know About Lyme Disease

by Janice Rutkowski, M.D.

Lyme disease is caused by an organism which resides in deer ticks. The northeastern United States is a prevalent area for the disease, with over 20% of ticks affected. Lyme disease is most frequently seen in the summertime; and you do not have to go camping or hike in the woods to contract the disease;  even gardening can expose you to the organism.

The typical case of Lyme disease begins after an incubation period of 3 to 32 days with a red rash exhibited in 75% of individuals, though 25% have no sign of the illness. The rash starts as a flat red spot and expands to form a large round or oval lesion, sometimes with a bright red outer border and partial clearing in the center – this is the classic “bull’s eye lesion”. It’s usually not painful, but within days of the onset, the disease can spread in the bloodstream and cause severe headache, pain in joints and profound fatigue. These symptoms can resolve on their own within weeks without treatment, but can lead to meningitis, nerve disorders, chronic arthritis, and cardiac abnormalities.

The diagnosis of Lyme disease is made by a doctor’s exam and a blood test, though the blood tests are often negative. Treatment includes antibiotics and if diagnosed early, is curative. See your doctor immediately if you are concerned you have been bitten by an infected tick or show signs or symptoms indicative of Lyme disease.

To learn more about what to do after a tick bite to prevent Lyme disease click on this link courtesy of UpToDate.com: http://www.uptodate.com/contents/what-to-do-after-a-tick-bite-to-prevent-lyme-disease-beyond-the-basics

Janice Rutkowski, M.D.Dr. Rutkowski is a Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC partner and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of Limoges in 1981 and completed her residency program in Internal Medicine at Maryland General Hospital in 1984.

New Rules for Sunscreen

By: Lisa Keithley, M.D.

Starting this summer the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has mandated new labeling rules for sunscreen products. These rules should help consumers better understand what’s actually in the product, and some of the limitations of sunscreen.

Since we know most skin cancers are related to sun exposure, and that the sun plays a role in premature skin aging, we must do more than just apply sunscreen. We should be avoiding the sun whenever possible during the hours of 10 a.m-2 p.m., and wearing protective clothing and hats. But sunscreen, worn daily, is a proven tool in helping us protect our skin.

Here’s what to look for:

  • The words “broad spectrum.” This means the sunscreen has been tested and proven to protect against both UVA & UVB rays.
  • Sun Protective Factor (SPF) of 30-50. The FDA is still testing products with an SPF above 50 to determine whether they are actually more effective, especially if people apply them less frequently. Those with an SPF lower than 15 must now carry a warning label that they will not protect against skin cancer.
  • “Water-resistance.” Sunscreens can no longer claim to be water or sweat proof, since all will wash off or become diluted over time. However, water resistance does help, and new labels must note a time limit of either 40 or 80 minutes before the sunscreen is ineffective. So, a new label may say: Broad spectrum SPF 30 water resistant (40 minutes)

Just as important as buying the right sunscreen is using it properly. It’s best to apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out in the sun. And make sure to use enough- a golfball-size dollop- is a good visual. The FDA encourages the use of lotions over sprays since it’s harder to determine if enough spray is being applied, and sprays may not be as safe around the face. In general, reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, or more often if you’ve been in the water.

Remember that sunscreen should not be used at all on infants under 6 months of age, and that older children should be protected as much as possible from mid-day sun. Just one bad sunburn in childhood doubles the risk of melanoma later in life.

Lisa Goldberg Keithly, M.D.Dr. Keithley joined Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC in 2009 and is certified by the American Board of Family Practice. She received her medical degree from Drexel University College of Medicine in 1997 and completed her residency program in Family Practice at Chestnut Hill Hospital in 2000.

Summer Health Tips

Because we care about your health and safety, Maryland Primary Care Physicians has put together this list of tips to help your family enjoy a healthy and safe summer.


Tip #1: Beware of the Sun

Studies show that more than a million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and that even a few serious sunburns can increase your risk of getting skin cancer. You can protect yourself during the time of day when the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays are strongest — between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. — by wearing long sleeves and pants, and by applying sunscreen with UVA & UVB protection and an SPF of 30 or higher. The American Cancer Society recommends that children wear a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and that it be reapplied every 2 hours when at the pool or beach where the sunscreen may wear off quickly.

Tip #2: Prevent Heat-related Illness

Normally, the body has ways of keeping itself cool, by letting heat escape through the skin, and by evaporating sweat (perspiration). If the body does not cool properly, or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a heat-related illness. Anyone can be susceptible although the very young and very old are at greater risk. Heat-related illnesses can become serious or even deadly if unattended.

  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.  It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
  • Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink  continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol  and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods that are high in protein which increase metabolic heat.
  • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous  activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, either early  morning or late evening.
  • Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. Remember, have fun, but stay cool!

Tip #3: Lawn Mower Safety

Warm weather means there’s lots of lawn mowing to be done! Always take the following precautions to guard against injury:glasses

  • Try to use a mower with a safety control that stops the mower if the handle is let go.
  • Wear sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) while mowing.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
  • Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.


Tip #4: Bike Safety

While bike riding is a staple of summer for many, it can lead to severe injury for those who aren’t careful. Some rules for bike safety are:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet. The most serious bike injuries are a result of head injury.
  • Follow all traffic rules (bikes have to follow the same traffic rules and signs as cars), wear bright colors or clothes that reflect light at night so drivers can see you.
  • Also, get a headlight for the front of your bike and reflectors on the front and back of your bike if you ride at night. Wearing a helmet also applies for activities such as skateboarding or rollerblading.

Tip #5: Outdoor Food Safety

basketNo matter what time of the year, more and more people are cooking outdoors. But outdoor barbeques and picnics during the summer pose a few extra challenges. Protect yourself and your friends and family in these ways:

  • Keep perishable food cool on longer trips; place it in a cooler with ice or freezer packs. Put raw meat/poultry in a plastic bag so juices won’t cross-contaminate your fruits or vegetables.
  • Don’t keep food out in the heat; perishable food sitting outside for more than 2 hours is not safe.
  • To prevent food borne illness, don’t use the same utensils or platters for raw and cooked meats, and be sure to keep food surfaces clean.

Tip #6: Keep a First Aid Kit with you in your Home, Car and Boat

Stay safe this summer.  Make sure to have first aid supplies on hand at home, in your car and when you travel.  Here is a list of the key items to include in a family first aid kit from the American Red Cross

Click here for a printable version of the Summer Health Tips.

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