by Grant J Everett
Summer is a traditionally a time of holidays, beaches, fun and relaxation. With a little planning and a few basic supplies, you can stay safe and happy for the whole season.
Don’t underestimate the sun
Our thinning ozone layer is letting through more harmful UV light than ever, making sun protection vital. There are two kinds of UV radiation: UVA rays penetrate deep into your skin, causing damage all the way down, and this leads to premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts), and reduces your ability to fight off illnesses. UVB rays inflict a more superficial kind of damage, and are the main cause of sunburn. Both UVA and UVB play a key role in the development of many skin cancers, including melanoma, the deadliest kind.
“UVA & UVB”, The Skin Cancer Foundation, September 20th 2017
Always use sunscreen whenever you go outside in Summer. Remember that cloudy or windy days won’t stop you getting burnt. Be sure your sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays and has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30. You can use creams, gels, wipes, sprays, and roll-ons. Apply 30 minutes in advance, and use more than you think you need. If you’re going swimming, use a water-resistant sunscreen, and reapply it at least every two hours.
Limit your UV exposure by dressing for Summer. A wide-brim hat will protect your head and neck, the two places most vulnerable to skin cancer. If you’re only wearing a baseball cap, put extra sunscreen on your ears and neck. The most effective sunglasses you can wear are the ones that block both UVA and UVB rays. You can also get clothes with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). Like with sunscreen, the higher the UPF, the better. Darker clothes reflect more UV than pale clothes, and looser-fitting clothes provide more of a barrier between your skin and the sun.
If you can, avoid spending the whole day in the sun. Note that UV rays are at their strongest between 10am-2pm, so try to seek shade during these times.
“12 Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy This Summer”, By Regine Harford, Good Health Rewards
Sunburn takes time to develop. Get inside before you turn pink, or you’ll wake up to a sunburn. Don’t wait for the pain to warn you!
When you sweat, your body loses water. If you don’t replenish your fluids, you will become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include not urinating all day, a dry mouth, and feeling dizzy standing up. The best thirst quencher is water, so be sure to keep topped up.
Examine your skin head-to-toe for moles and other growths every month, and see your GP at least once a year for a professional skin exam.
Pollen allergies can ruin a fun Summer, but there are steps you can take. For instance, pollen counts tend to be lower on cooler, humid days, or after the rain. Allergy medications (either pills or nasal sprays) can also help, but if over-the-counter varieties don’t do the trick, you can see your doctor. Keep in mind that some allergy medications can make you drowsy. Allergy vaccinations (a needle) might be an option for some people.
Summer is open season for tick and mosquito attacks. Besides being annoying, they can carry debilitating diseases. There’s a lot you can do to protect yourself.
First off, use insect repellent on your exposed skin and clothes. You can buy a variety of bug-repelling options from any supermarket or pharmacy, but be sure to carefully follow the instructions. Your pharmacist or GP can give you more tailored advice.
Stay on cleared paths, especially in humid places or near woods or grassy areas. Ticks love jumping onto people from trees, and mosquitoes enjoy similar habitats. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so as soon as you notice the first mosquito, change into long sleeves and pants. Tuck your pants into your socks so the bugs don’t have anything to target.
Conduct a body check after coming home, especially of your warm, sweaty parts. If you find a tick attached anywhere to your skin, you have a couple of options: your GP can remove it for you, or if you feel confident you can remove it yourself with tweezers. A guide like this one can show you what to do: