It’s summer time! The UV rays are pumping directly into the part of the human brain that makes us want to do stuff like “Monday night happy hour!” or “Hang out with people for 14 hours!” and that’s… amazing. But a key component of flinging ourselves into life involves… literally flinging ourselves into stuff, which means the season of low-grade but painful injuries is also on the horizon.
As a writer with an honorary PhD in lightly hurting myself from the University of Having a Good Time, I went ahead and carefully analyzed the most common summer injuries; rated each on three factors: pain level, inconvenience caused, and cost to remedy; and ranked them from least-bad to worst. Yes, all of this wear and tear is kind of inevitable and mostly NBD. But quantifying each of these little indignities opens the door for something even more fun than complaining about how much getting hurt sucks: Now we can argue about which injury sucks the most and why! Basically, if you disagree with this ranking: Fight me about it. Bring your friends! We’ll see who’s really sunburned with a UTI when the dust clears.
10. Unexplained bruises
OK, real talk—what is up with the bruises that magically appear after every fun night ~out~? Can science explain? Actually, yes: According to Men’s Health, because ingesting alcohol causes our blood vessels to relax and expand, it’s easier to bruise from, say, a small tumble in pursuit of cat-petting that normally wouldn’t phase your body. On the bright side, you probably didn’t get into a physical fight with a toddler that you can’t remember. On the other hand, if you’re often finding yourself confused after a night of boozing, it might be smart to check in on your drinking habits.
9. Open wound of unknown origin
Summer’s scratches, scrapes, and scabs are just as common as they are totally inexplicable. I don’t remember bleeding, so where did all of this bod come from? That being said, if you don’t remember where you got it, it’s probably not a huge deal—just slick some Neosporin on that bad boy and make sure you change bandages on a daily basis.
Frolicking at the beach and having a sweaty good time is all fun and games—until you fall asleep with your hand on your stomach and spend the rest of the summer saying, “Haha, yeah, I did fall asleep with my hand on my stomach! How’d you know?” with a less authentic laugh every time. As long as this doesn’t fall into sun blister territory (in which case, please, seek medical attention), sunburns feel like a pretty inevitable part of summer fun. All things considered, it’s not a huge deal to get one—just don’t let any of the TikTok dermatologists know you spent time outside without reapplying SPF 8000 every 15–20 minutes on the dot.
7. Bug bites
Mosquitos are proof that God is real and She’s kind of a dick. Camping, enjoying a bonfire with your friend’s boyfriend’s friends who own a house, hiking, picnicking, enjoying the local swamps and marshes—all of these activities are essential summer fun and all of them make for a very bug-bitey experience. Yeah, yeah, they “go away faster” if you “don’t scratch them,” but it’s hard to let go of the possibility that if you make an X with your fingernail in the exact right way, you’ll banish all itchiness and hardship forever, so… it’s not as simple as it sounds, OK?
6. Nail trauma
Nails should be harder to injure. In a perfect world, we’d have claws. Unfortunately, we live here, which means that our nails are subject to tears, chips, and breakages of all kinds.
Help a friend move? There goes half the acrylics on your left hand! Walk too long in a tight pair of sneakers? Your big toe will never be the same. Nail trauma is some of the most “let it play out” stuff in the bodily harm game, but it’s unsightly as hell. Ever see someone with a “fresh” nail? Gag.
Backpack strap on sweaty skin. Croc strap on sweaty skin. Sweaty skin on sweaty skin. We see where this is going, and where it’s going absolutely sucks! It’s kind of weird that there aren’t more solutions to the problem of “having thighs that touch and wearing a short garment in 75 degree weather or higher is horrible” and by weird I mean low-key sexist, fatphobic, anti-queer, etc… Where is Silicon Valley on this one?
Oh, you love going to the pool? Name five times you accidentally spent 20 hours in the same soggy swimsuit bottoms and pissed blood! But seriously: a urinary tract infection is a small-scale nightmare that can get really serious if left untreated. If you’re prone to these suckers, make sure to keep your bottom in breathable bottoms as often as possible, hydrate like hell, and pee in any bar that will let you beg your way into a bathroom (or, if all else fails, go the gonzo route and make nature your bar bathroom to really stick it to the lack of public restrooms in your city’s midsy infrastructure). It’ll save you a trip to urgent care and a round of antibiotics.
Maybe you swore you could walk three miles in your brand new Birkenstocks, or maybe you brought the wrong boots on your Yellowstone camping trip. Regardless of from whence they sprung, blisters hurt in a special, urgent way that makes you want to renounce walking for life. A wretched affliction and an enemy of cute shoes everywhere.
Cost: 8/10 (Those blister bandages are kind of a racket, right?)
2. Tooth trauma
Get too enthusiastic on an oyster, or play a drunken and perhaps ill-advised game of chicken too near the edge of a pool? Incur the wrath of Poseidon in the form of a chipped incisor. That’s hard to grin and bear—pun obviously intended. In all seriousness, a tooth injury can seriously impact your ability to eat (bye-bye, cold foods! bye-bye, crunchy stuff!) and should be addressed sooner rather than later. The worst part is that a tooth incident will probably involve consulting a professional for a fee that will hurt your pockets, big-time.
1. Bad haircut
Is getting a bad haircut in anticipation of a whirlwind social life and “getting back out there” technically a physical injury? Maybe not, but it is an intense psychological wound that I’d totally wish on my worst enemy. In some ways, it’s not that big of a deal, because hair famously grows. But in other, more subtle ways, getting a bad haircut is the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone when it happens to me specifically.
Follow Katie Way on Twitter.