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How to treat burns, bug bites and other summer injuries

A Walgreens pharmacist has advice on how to care for pesky summer ailments, so you can feel better quickly and get back to your beach chair. 

By Elyse Russo
summer safety
kid with firework


Taylor Howell
Walgreens Pharmacist Taylor Howell

Nothing stops summertime fun in its tracks like a finger getting burnt on a sparkler or a bug bite that won’t stop itching. Fortunately, your local Walgreens pharmacist is a convenient, knowledgeable option when you need advice on treating a minor injury. 

“Pharmacists are here to help,” says Taylor Howell, a Walgreens pharmacist based in Kansas City, Missouri. Howell noted that all Walgreens stores will be open for the Fourth of July holiday as well as several pharmacy locations, too.  

After consulting with the pharmacist, you can buy what you need from Walgreens store shelves to feel better faster and get you back to your summer barbecue. Howell explains how to treat some of the most frequent summer injuries out there: burns, bug bites and heat exhaustion. 

“I was working outside building a deck all weekend and got sunburn and bug bites, so I really need to take my own advice,” she says. 

How to treat burns 

Whether you’re treating a sunburn or a burn from a firework, the first step is the same: cool the skin. Submerging the injury in cool water for about 15 minutes should do the trick, Howell says. Then pat the area dry with a towel. 

For first-degree burns, apply petroleum jelly on top of it and cover it with a non-stick bandage. Howell says the American Academy of Dermatology recommends reapplying petroleum jelly two to three times daily to keep the skin moisturized.  

“Do not use antibiotic ointments or household items like toothpaste or butter on the burn as using those things could lead to infection,” Howell says.  

Howell says oral pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen should also help you feel better after a burn, and for sunburn specifically, she recommends some of the Walgreens brand after sun care products with aloe vera. And when you’re outside, apply a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen to prevent sunburn in the first place, Howell says. You can check out sunscreen recommendations from Walgreens pharmacist and beauty consultant team here.

How to treat bug bites 

Howell says her go-to over-the-counter product for bug bites is Walgreens Anti-Itch Cream, which contains an antihistamine. 

“It’s a diphenhydramine cream, so it can help reduce any itching or swelling, but you can’t use it for more than seven days,” Howell says. “If your discomfort lasts longer than seven days, call your doctor.” 

Other over-the-counter medications she recommends for bug bites include hydrocortisone cream—"Good for inflammation,” she says—or calamine lotion

“For more severe reactions, you can use oral antihistamines like loratadine and cetirizine, but if your bug bite gets worse or you don’t feel well, reach out to your doctor,” Howell says. 

But the best way to beat bug bites is to avoid getting them in the first place, which calls for an effective bug repellent. While Walgreens carries a variety of options, Howell says she personally favors bug repellent with deet, which is endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How to treat heat exhaustion 

“It’s really important to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion early to prevent it from progressing to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency,” Howell says. 

According to the CDC, the symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive thirst, profuse sweating, headache, dizziness, confusion and nausea. If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, Howell says to get out of the sun and try cooling off with a fan or air conditioning. You should also drink cool non-alcoholic beverages like water or a drink with electrolytes

“If your symptoms don’t improve in 30 minutes, or if they get worse, you should seek medical attention right away,” Howell says. 

So be sure to apply sunscreen, use fireworks safely and keep cool this summer, but if you do need help with a mild summer injury, Howell says your neighborhood Walgreens pharmacist is there to help. 

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