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vine vera banner presents Don't Let Sand Rub You the Wrong Way

Don’t Let Sand Rub You the Wrong Way

Ah, the beach! That salty air! That beach smell! Don’t you wish you could just take it home with you? Many of us wish we could capture the essence of the beach, but when it comes to bringing it your house, there may be certain elements better left at the shore. Sand fleas can feast on human flesh, carrying diseases and transmitting viruses, and you certainly don’t want them making your body their home. Read on to find out little more about these pests and how you can make sure they don’t get in the way of your summer fun.

Sand Fleas On Humans
Don’t judge them by their size. They may be quite small, but sand fleas can cause big problems. Because they are so close to the ground, your ankles, feet, and legs, are their most convenient targets, and they can’t jump more than 20 to 40 centimeters, so unless you’re lying in the sand, your upper body should be relatively safe. These creatures are nocturnal, so you’re most likely to get bitten in the evening, at night, or at dawn.

There are two types of sand fleas bites to look for. The first resembles a mosquito bite. You’ll get these when the flea bites and sucks your blood and they move on to another host. As they do this, they leave behind saliva which prevents blood clotting, and this clotting that may cause an allergic reaction. The second type of bite is inflicted by breeding females. These fleas will burrow themselves into the skin and stay there until their eggs hatch. The bites of the female breeding fleas are characterized by a swollen area with black spots in the middle. The black spots are the fleas.

Both types of bites can cause symptoms like pain, discomfort, and itching. If you have an allergy to sand flea bites, these symptoms can be more severe. When breeding fleas burrow into your skin, you may experience fever and infection, which may develop into tungiasis, which is an inflammatory skin disease that needs treatment to prevent further infection.

vine vera banner presents Don't Let Sand Rub You the Wrong Way

Treatment
If you are bitten by and fleas, here is some advice for treatment

  • Don’t scratch the bites. This will only increase the chance of infection.
  •  Examine the bite for breeding sand fleas who can live under your skin sucking blood for weeks.
  •  Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to control itching, and take painkillers for pain and swelling. See a doctor if treatments worsen. He or she may suggest the use of an antihistamine cream.
  •  A combination of baking soda and water may prove soothing. Just apply to the area and let it work.
  •  Soak in a lukewarm (not hot) oatmeal bath to reduce itching.
  •  Aloe vera may provide relief from itching and help bites heal.
  •  Essential oils such as eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, and cedar wood, may all relieve discomfort

Preventing Further Attacks
Prevention is, of course, the best treatment. Here are some suggestions for those who want to avoid sand flea bites.

  • Stay away from the beach in the morning and evening, and when it has recently rained. Sand fleas are more active when the air is moist and cool. If you do visit the beach during any of these weather conditions, bring insect repellant.
  • Cover yourself when lying down or sitting to avoid bites on your legs, back, and feet.

Have you ever provided a home for a sand flea? Let us know your experiences and how you rid yourself of these bloodsucking parasites.

Certain Sunscreens May Harm Corals

Coral reefs

You’re finally going on your Hawaiian vacation. You’re going to party the week away eating kalua pork and huli huli chicken, working on your hula moves and drinking exotic cocktails from coconuts with umbrellas sticking out of them. You’re going to go snorkeling in the crystal waters of Waikiki Beach and you’re going to hit the white sands of Honolulu running. And of course, you’re going to slather on that sunscreen. Right? Well, you may want to think again.

You know that your Hawaiian vacation would not be complete without checking out those amazing coral reefs. Not only are these beauties responsible for housing 500 species of algae which provide food and sustenance to Hawaii’s vast marine life, they’re also going to keep you hangin’ 10 by creating those big Hawaiian waves. Unfortunately, when it comes to these natural wonders, your sunscreen may be doing more harm than good.

Dangers of Sunscreen to Corals
Although sunscreen may be fully beneficial to humans, it may be anything but for the coral reef. Chemicals in sunscreens that wash off the body off beach goers wreak havoc on the precious reefs, bleaching the coral, hindering its growth, and often, outright killing it. In the aim of damage control to one of Hawaii’s most profitable natural resources, Hawaiian Senator Will Espero presented a bill to congress on January 20 that would ban sunscreens with octinoxate and oxybenzone from the Hawaiian island.

Sunscreen Harms Corals
The chemical and mineral filters in sunscreen, used to block the sun’s radiation are the most damaging to the reefs. They wash off the skin of surfers, swimmers, spear fishers, and even those using the beach showers, and find their way into the ocean. Oxybenzone, concentrations have been measured at 30 times the concentration level safe for the corals. Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources says, “(These chemicals) cause deformities in coral larvae making them unable to swim, settle out, and form new coral colonies. It also increases the rate at which coral bleaching occurs. This puts coral reef health at risk, and reduces resiliency to climate change.”

Woman on a hammock

Craig Downs, researcher on stunted coral growth at Haereticua Environmental Laboratory in Virginia says that oxybenzone “kills (coral.) It turns them into zombies if it doesn’t kill them outright. It makes them sterile and you do not get coral recruitment.”

Not Just A Hawaiian Problem
Hawaiian corals are not the only ones being endangered. In fact, about 80% of all corals in the Caribbean Sea have died within the past 40 years. Although factors such as temperature anomalies, predators, pollution from cruise ships and coastal runoffs all contribute to the endangerment, the fact the approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen has been found to wash into the world’s ocean each year is not helping matters.

The Other Side
Of course, there are two sides to every story. Sunscreen manufacturers, such as L’oreal uphold the benefits of their products and oppose the ban claiming there is not enough supporting evidence. However, Espero rallies, ” We have advocates and science on our side. Fisherman, boat owners, ocean sports enthusiasts, ocean-tour operators, and environmentalists rely on the ocean for recreation and jobs. Opponents will be out there, but supporters as well.

What Can You Do?
If your wondering how to keep these creatures safe without risking your delicate complexion, you can check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to safe sunscreen, but be aware that they do advise, “Sunscreen should be your last resort,” and urge you to consider long sleeved shirts, Uv blocking attire, sunglasses, shade and well time jaunts into the sun to keep exposure to a minimum.

So what do you think? To screen or not to screen? Let us know where you stand!