Great Health Guide
SUN SAFETY THIS SUMMER
Five tips for sun safety
Summer is an important time to consider potential health risks associated with excess sun exposure. From dehydration to skin damage, everyone can be exposed to harsh UV rays through everyday activities like walking to the shop, waiting for the bus and hanging out the washing.
As a pharmacist, I know the importance of protecting ourselves from hot and humid weather, so here are my top five sun safety tips to beat the summer heat.
1. Get hydrated.
With summer in full swing, many Australians head outdoors to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. However, hot and humid weather means we are more susceptible to acute dehydration, as our bodies secrete more fluid from sweat in an attempt to cool down.
Water should be consumed throughout the day, even before the stages of feeling thirsty. If you are experiencing symptoms such as dry mouth or a headache, it is possible you could be becoming dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration can include cramping, feeling tired and light headedness. So, be sure to replace lost fluids more frequently by drinking plenty of water and consider taking an electrolyte solution to replenish the salts lost during perspiration.
Remember that beverages like coffee, soft drinks and alcohol should not be consumed as a substitute for water as they do not replace the fluids that you lose from perspiration. Caffeinated drinks are also a natural diuretic and cause the body to expel water through urine more frequently, further dehydrating the body.
2. Slap on some sunscreen.
Applying sunscreen is one of the essential steps we should be taking to protect our skin from the sun’s harsh UV rays. With approximately two in three Australians
diagnosed with skin cancer by the time
they are 70, it is important to choose a sunscreen that will give you the best protection.
The sun has two types of rays - UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, and unprotected exposure can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkling. UVB rays usually burn the superficial layers in the skin and play a key role in cancer development.
When shopping for a sun protectant, always look for sunscreens labeled ‘board spectrum’ as this is what protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens with a higher Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating up to 50+ will also provide the highest protection against UV radiation.
3. Fake the bake.
Over the summer months, many Australians seek a bronzed complexion by laying in the sun. It may be tough to resist a beach trip for a bronze body, but it is lifestyle factors like this which has Queensland named as the ‘Skin Cancer Capital of the World’. There are very sobering statistics for Australia with
cancer diagnosis set to rise to 150,000 cases by 2020.
You can still achieve that desired summer glow without damaging your skin. Tanning skin products, such as lotions, foams and moisturizers can give the illusion that you’ve been on a beach holiday within minutes, minus the burn
and peel and associated risks down the track.
4. Seek some shade.
Whether it’s stepping indoors or finding a shady spot to lay down, these moments out of the sun, help your skin and body to cool down. Be sure to wear light-weight clothing, sunscreen, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses when out in the sun.
If anyone around you is experiencing heat-related illness or heat stress such as dehydration, dizziness, muscle cramps and lack of airflow, encourage them to seek a cool, covered area immediately and call for medical assistance.
5. Up your vitamin game.
Sun damage can cause inflammation and oxidative stress to the skin, but antioxidantrich products can play an essential role in sun protection with Vitamin C, E and B3 protecting the skin further from infrared and UV rays.
Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, is also a great source of added protection for your skin, shielding the dermis from heat and its negative impacts. B3 can also be found in eggs, beans, fish and milk or vitamin supplements, which are available at your local pharmacy.
Please visit your local Discount Drug Store to seek professional healthcare advice on suitable sun protection applications for the whole family. Melissa Hui is a qualified Pharmacist with over ten years’ experience in community pharmacy and is a Professional Services Pharmacist for the National Discount Drug Stores Franchise Support Office.