Summer’s here and so are all those time-honored words of wisdom that our mothers used to repeat every time June rolled around.
“You just ate—no swimming for 30 minutes!”
“Stop scratching that bug bite—you’re just going to make it itch more!”
“Just put a little butter on your sun burn—you’ll be fine!”
But are these expressions really true? We got to the bottom of 10 popular sayings that could make or break your summer.
1. If you’re stung by a jellyfish or stingray, get someone to urinate on the bite.
FALSE! Urine on a jellyfish sting will bring zero relief. In fact, it may actually aggravate the situation. Also, no one wants to get urinated on in front of dozens of gawkers at the beach. A better solution is to first remove any remaining tentacles (use gloves!) and scrape the venom sacs from the skin using a flat surface, such as a shell or credit card. Then run the sting under hot water. Another technique is to pat it with vinegar-soaked pads. Experts go back and forth on this method, however, so do so at your own risk.
2. If you get a sun burn, slather yourself with butter.
FALSE! Butter will not relieve your sunburn, and may even delay healing. You’ll smell delicious though. Your best bet is to go with aloe vera—store-bought aloe will do, but try to get it directly from the plant. If neither is available, use cooled moisturizer. (Keep a spare jar of it in your refrigerator or an ice chest if you’re out.) The coolness will provide much needed relief after a lukewarm shower. Keep in mind, though, if your burn begins blistering, you need to see a doctor soon.
3. You have to wait 30 minutes after eating before you jump in the water.
FALSE! While blood does leave the extremities for the stomach to help with digestion, this isn’t going to cause anyone to drown. Worst case scenario is you get a few cramps, but those more commonly develop due to dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance—not because of a ham sandwich.
4. If you scratch a bug bite, it’ll itch even more.
TRUE! Scratching a bug bite actually releases histamine into the body, sending a signal to your brain to scratch more! Your best bet is to ice it. That will reduce inflammation and ease some of the itchiness along the way.
5. You can still get a sun burn—even if it’s overcast.
TRUE! Don’t assume that cloudy skies are protecting you from the sun. The fact is, you’re more likely to get burned on an overcast day because those damaging UV rays penetrate clouds and people tend to forget to apply sunscreen when they’re not hot.
6. If your nose starts bleeding, tilt your head back to stop the blood flow.
FALSE! That’ll just cause the blood to drip down your throat and no one wants that. You actually want to sit straight up and tilt your head slightly forward while pinching your nose near the tip, then hold it without letting up for at least 10 minutes. The key is steady pressure without checking to see if it stopped.
7. If you think you’re feeling dehydrated, drink lots of water.
TRUE! Sounds obvious, right? Tell that to the people who go straight for the sodas and fruit juices when they’re really thirsty. Sugary drinks can actually coat the throat, causing you to feel thirstier. They also typically contain caffeine, which acts as a diuretic, and can lead to worse dehydration. Some argue that sports drinks hydrate better, but that’s only because people tend to drink more due to the taste. Water is always your best option. All that said, if you’re severely dehydrated (rapid heartbeat, fast breathing, delirium, unconsciousness), you need to immediate medical attention.
8. If you get a small cut, salty ocean water will heal it.
FALSE! While salt does have some degree of healing power, the ocean is not the place to get it. Sea water is loaded with bacteria and taking an open wound in there is just asking for a staph infection.
9. If you get a base tan before going on vacation, you won’t get a sun burn.
FALSE! There’s no such thing as a base tan. All sun exposure leads to skin damage—the darker skin color is merely a by-product of exposure. Getting “some color” ahead of time also does nothing to protect you from future burning, so bring the sunscreen and apply it liberally.
10. Campfire smoke is just as dangerous as cigarette smoke—if not more.
TRUE! The particulates from a campfire can enter your lungs, and depending on what you’re burning, that can be incredibly bad. Look at it this way, the EPA estimates that a single fireplace operating for an hour will generate 4,300 times more PAHs (carcinogens) than 30 cigarettes. A fireplace is indoors, and campfire outdoors, so it’s not quite that bad, but you would still be better off sitting as far from the smoke as possible.
While falling for some of these myths surely won’t kill you, they can take some of the fun out of your summer.
Photo credit: Getty Images