By Stephanie Stahl
CBS PHILADELPHIA – You hear about summer myths everywhere this time of year; things like don’t swim right after you eat. Doctors say most myths aren’t true, but some are. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl debunks some popular ones. Jellyfish stings, bug bites, and poison ivy are summer time maladies and come with plenty of myths for treating them.
Here’s a popular, but strange one. Urinating on a jellyfish sting makes it feel better. “Yes, I think that is correct,” said Mark Gehman, of Reading. “It worked for my sister,” said Viviana Takfoor, of Venezuela. “That’s a big myth that a lot of people have. They think urinating on a jellyfish sting can cure it,” said Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a south Jersey Family Medicine physician. She says it’s an old wives tale, that’s not true. “Vinegar can be a good option for treating jellyfish wounds, also baking soda,” said Dr. Caudle.
Another popular myth is you’re not supposed to swim for 30 minutes after you eat. “Cause you get cramps,” said Ida Spann, of Philadelphia. It’s a popular notion; swimming with a full stomach can make you sick, or increase the risk of drowning. “I think that’s ridiculous. I think you just go any time you want and enjoy yourself,” said Gehman. He’s right. Experts say there’s no reason to wait to swim after eating. “Yes, your blood does rush to the stomach after you’ve eaten, but you still have plenty of blood and oxygen carried to the arms and legs to swim yourself to where you need to go,” said Dr. Caudle. “My mother made me sit on the bench for nothing,” said Maria Binck, of south Philadelphia.
Another myth: Have you heard the poison ivy rash is contagious? “Yes, you can, I think,” said Gehman. Wrong. Poison ivy is only spread by oil from the plant. “The oils that actually cause the reaction from the poison ivy plant can be found in a lot of inanimate objects, things like pet fur, gardening tools, even sometimes clothing,” said Dr. Caudle.
And finally, a true summer myth: scratching a bug bite makes it worse. “Cause of germs from your nails,” said Spann. “When we scratch a lot you can actually cause small tears in the skin. That can allow bacteria to go into the wound and actually cause a secondary infection,” said Dr. Caudle. And doctors say scratching a bug bite can also cause the body to release histamines, and that can lead to more swelling and itching. It’s best to use an anti-itch lotion or antibiotic ointment if the skin is broken.