Latest local health column – August 2020
Have a safe staycation!
As some of you lucky lot begin to hit the road and soak in the sun, whether it be Blackpool, Skegness, Cornwall, Brighton or anywhere in between, I thought I’d use this month’s column to remind you of the importance of balancing fun in the sun with safety. While it goes without saying that we must continue to stringently stick to the protocol in line with COVID-19 outlined by the Government, the following contains more general advice about staying healthy on holiday.
As tempting as you may find it to spend weeks getting a sun kissed tan, the health of your skin must take priority. Sun cream is vital for protecting your skin from the sun, with the NHS recommending you use a cream with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30. Remember to apply sun cream 30 minutes before exposing yourself to the rays, reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. Also, stay out of direct sunlight when it’s at its most lethal (between 11am and 3pm). What else? Oh yeah, we’ve all got bottles knocking around the house that have been hidden away for a decade or more, so make sure you’re not using sun cream that expired before you left school!
Clothing is another area where you may be tempted to choose aesthetics over safety. However, as cool as you may feel by dressing in your favourite short shorts or bikini, you might not feel so great spending your long-awaited holiday in hospital with sunstroke. Dressing appropriately is one important factor to consider (amongst several others on this list) in order to avoid this fate, for example wearing light-coloured, loose fitting clothes. Make sure you wear a hat that has a brim all the way around that shades your face, ears, and neck and top the outfit off with sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes.
An ice-cold refreshing beer could have many of you watering at the mouth right now. While having a couple of drinks is by no means a crime, bear in mind that alcohol is NOT a replacement for water. In fact, alcohol can dehydrate you as it causes your body to remove fluids from your body at a much quicker rate than any other liquid. Combine excessive alcohol drinking with sweltering hot weather and you have a recipe for disaster.
The Eatwell Guide suggests we should drink 6-8 glasses of fluid a day (about 1.2 litres) to avoid dehydration, but when it’s hotter this really should be more. One good method is to keep water with you all the time and drink at regular intervals, not just when you’re thirsty.
We’ve all had that moment when we’ve set off on holiday and knew we’d forgotten something. For me, more often than not that ‘thing’ is medication. To help avoid any heart-in-mouth moments, read the following tips:
· Make sure you pack enough paracetamol and ibuprofen
· Stock up on antihistamines, especially if you have allergies such as hay fever, hives, conjunctivitis and reactions to insect bites or stings
· Discuss what medication you are planning to take with your pharmacist to ensure you don’t ingest medicine that you may be allergic to or cannot be taken with another supplement you take with you
· Finally, remember to order any prescriptions well in advance to avoid last minute panic or even missing your holiday altogether
Remember , your local pharmacy Health Champions are available to help with any questions. Happy staycation!