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Your summer first aid essentials

Prone to bumps, stings and sore muscles in the warmer months? We spoke with Dr. Robin Reddeman, naturopathic doctor at our West Seattle store, about ways to prevent and treat whatever the summer throws at you.

Don't forget that in the heat of summer, Dr. Reddeman says, people are prone to dehydration. "Keep hydrated and eat regularly," she says. She likes Oxylent drink mix packets, which are easy to carry with you to add to a water bottle on a hike or at the pool.

Next, make sure you have proper sun protection. Dr. Reddeman says that finding the right sun care depends on whether you want mineral or chemical, how long you'll be in the sun and what your climate is like. "I usually recommend 15 minutes of [unprotected] sun, twice a week and that should help our bodies make enough vitamin D," she says. For exposure beyond that, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about the best sunblock for your skin type.

Here are her quick tips for specific first-aid problems:

Sore muscles: First, Dr. Reddeman says, "Don't try to be a weekend warrior. Know your limits and make sure you're conditioned for what you're doing." In other words, if you're not in shape, you're bound for some achy muscles. To deal with the aftermath of a big hike, Dr. Reddeman recommends taking Arnica, and taking a warm Epsom Salt bath (a form of magnesium, which is good for muscles).

Foot blisters: If you're breaking in new shoes on that hike, blisters are nearly unavoidable. One way to reduce blistering is to pad areas prone to chafing with Dr. Scholl's Moleskin. If a blister does form, Dr. Reddeman recommends keeping it clean and covered to avoid infection. Try applying Boericke & Tafel's Califlora to help speed up healing.

Sunburn: Smooth on a homeopathic gel like Boericke & Tafel's Califlora, or Boiron's Calendula Lotion. "With sunburns, you need a topical that will help release some of the heat," says Dr. Reddeman. "Calendula does that nicely." She adds that lavender essential oil, either on its own or in a little lotion, can also be helpful with burns.

Bug bites: Dr. Reddeman says that a baking-soda based ointment, such as After Bite - Kids, is an easy way to provide itch relief. Or try an herbal formula like Bite Balm Salve from WishGarden Herbs, which uses plantain, chickweed and yarrow to calm itchy skin.

Poison Ivy/Oak: "You want to do a wash first to get the poisonous oils off your skin," says Dr. Reddeman (try washes from Tecnu or Zanfel). Next, she says, keep it lightly covered with a bandage to avoid spreading to other parts of your body. Soak in an oatmeal bath to quell itching, then dry and soothe the skin with something like All Terrain's Poison Ivy/Oak Spray.

Bee stings: When stings cause lasting pain, try a homeopathic preparation of Apis Mellifica, says Dr. Reddeman. And of course, if you know you're allergic to bee stings, make sure you have your EpiPen with you at all times.

Pharmaca's here for everything else your summer fun brings you, too.

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