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Natural first aid kit

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It’s summer, and you’re on the road to your next vacation destination. While you’ve probably mapped out your route, meals and activities, staying healthy and safe requires advance planning, too! Spending a few minutes to prepare and plan ahead can really help you make the most of your time with family and friends. Don’t let sunburns, scrapes and insects take a bite out of your vacation. 

It’s summer, and you’re on the road to your next vacation destination. While you’ve probably mapped out your route, meals and activities, staying healthy and safe requires advance planning, too! Band-Aids, gauze, scissors and instant cold packs are important basics, but a robust all-natural and chemical-free first aid kit can (literally) be a lifesaver for you and your family.

Fun and the Sun

Did you know that one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles the chances of developing melanoma later in life? Furthermore, your risk for melanoma also doubles if you have had five or more sunburns at any age.

Since summer fun most often revolves around time spent outdoors, make sure you’re protecting yourself with the right type of sunscreen.
Depending on your skin tone and the intensity of the sun, you’ll want SPF 15 to SPF 50, (higher ratings are misleading and offer little additional benefit.) Be sure to choose a lotion format, instead of spray or powder, to avoid inhaling particles during application. Look for physical-blocker ingredients, such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone 3%. Avoid sunscreens that contain “oxybenzone.” This chemical is a hormone disruptor and skin allergen.

So lather up and enjoy the sun. After all, it’s free Vitamin D! Just keep in mind that since you’re wisely covering up and wearing sunscreen, you’re probably not getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. Experts agree that Canadians — who live well north of the 32nd parallel — should continue taking supplemental Vitamin D all year long.

And despite best efforts, sometimes your summer vacation can still end in sunburn. If this happens to you, mix 1/4 cup Aloe Vera Gel with 6 drops Tea Tree Oil in a glass container, and then apply the lotion directly to sunburned skin two to three times a day.

Boo Boos, Owies and Scrapes — Oh My!

Minor cuts and scrapes are all-too-common during family summer vacations.

Tea Tree Oil is an effective all-natural, anti-bacterial oil that can be used as a local antiseptic for superficial cuts and abrasions. It also takes the pain and itch out of insect bites and stings. This superhero natural remedy can also be used for swimmer’s ear. Place three to four drops of Tea Tree Oil in each ear after swimming in public pools or “iffy” lakes.

In addition to Tea Tree Oil, Calendula Cream will help reduce pain and swelling and heal minor scrapes, superficial wounds and abrasions. In fact, Calendula is so powerful in speeding up healing that you shouldn’t apply it to a deep cut (since it may heal the top layer of skin before the deeper layer closes properly).

Calendula Cream can also be used to treat nosebleeds. Use ice and pressure to stop the bleeding, and then gently apply a generous amount of cream inside the nose with a cotton swab. My personal summer travel kit always includes Calendula Cream, Tea Tree Oil and Aloe Vera Gel. You’ll get more effective first aid with these essential ingredients than you’ll find in many commercial drugstore products.

Don’t let sunburns, scrapes and insects take a bite out of your vacation. Spending a few minutes to prepare and plan ahead can really help you make the most of your time with family and friends. Enjoy your summer vacation and remember to be careful out there!

-Bryce Wylde, B.Sc. Hons., DHMHS