Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Summer isn’t always carefree. Playing outside is fraught with hazards such as bites, burns, allergies, and sprains. And motion sickness can put a serious damper on summer travel. This year, prepare yourself for the season by stocking a small zippered bag with first-aid basics—adhesive bandages, rubbing alcohol, instant cold packs, hand wipes, and tweezers—and include the following essentials to keep you happy and healthy all summer long.
1. Bug Bites and Stings
Campgrounds, hiking trails, and outdoor events are crawling with biting, stinging critters. Wear shoes, avoid perfume and strongly scented lotions or deodorant, and cover exposed skin—especially during sunrise or sunset, when insects are more active. Keep bugs at bay with a natural insect repellent, and stock up on natural topicals to ease itching, pain, and redness if you do get bitten or stung.
We know you’re slathering on sunscreen—but despite your best efforts, you still get burned. For additional sun protection, seek shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat and light, long-sleeved cover-ups or clothing with UPF protection, and avoid the sun during peak hours—usually 10 am to 2 pm. Soothe minor sunburns, redness, and irritation with aloe vera, tea tree, and other botanicals.
3. Sprains, Strains, and Muscle Pain
All that running, biking, and hiking makes sprains and strains more common in summer. To protect against everyday-athlete and weekend-warrior injuries, warm up and stretch first, wear good shoes that fit well, run on flat surfaces, and avoid extreme activities when you’re tired or in pain. To ease sprains, strains, and muscle pains, look for topical treatments and supplements with arnica or menthol, and natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric or proteolytic enzymes.
4. Motion Sickness
Even if you’re not flying this summer, you’ll likely encounter lots of opportunities for motion sickness. Caused by repetitive motions that disturb the inner ear, this common condition can be triggered by car trips, boat rides, trains, and roller coasters. Even 3D movies can leave some people feeling bilious. To stop queasy stomachs before they start, avoid greasy or heavy foods, don’t read, and keep your eyes focused on a distant, stationary spot. If you’re flying, choose a seat near the wings where motion is minimized. And if your tummy tumbles at the mere mention of movement, choose stomach-soothing remedies such as ginger, essential oils, and homeopathic remedies.
Related: 7 Natural Remedies for Allergies
Your summer hike led you through a lush field of poison ivy, poison oak, or other noxious flora. To avoid that itch that just won’t stop, learn what these plants look like and where they grow, stay on cleared areas when you’re hiking or camping, and wear protective clothing—long-sleeved shirts, pants, socks, and boots—if you’re in a heavily wooded area. If you do come in contact with irritating plants, wash your skin promptly with cool water and mild soap, and look for creams, salves, and homeopathic remedies to ease itching and soothe irritation.
6. Dehydration and Heatstroke
Too much time in the hot summer sun can lead to heatstroke—especially if you’re not regularly hydrating. If you’re super-active in summer, start slowly to let your body acclimate to increased temperatures. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes, take breaks in the shade, and replenish lost fluids, especially with natural hydrating beverages—they’ll boost electrolytes, and studies show that flavored beverages encourage more consumption than plain water.
7. Cuts, Burns, and Minor Injuries
Bike rides, home improvement projects, and kids’ camps mean more opportunities for cuts, scrapes, burns, and other summer owies. To treat wounds and soothe pain, look for products with antibacterial ingredients and calming botanicals like calendula. And keep a homeopathic spray on hand to promote calm after minor traumas—especially good for kids.
April showers and May flowers may be long gone, but summer allergy season can still leave you sneezing, sniffling, and stuffy well into the hottest months. The most common culprits are grasses and weeds, especially ragweed. Plus mold, smog, and dust mites tend to peak in summer. Fight back with homeopathics and natural supplements that protect the respiratory system, support immune health, and fight runny, itchy noses and eyes.