Great Health Guide


- Melissa Hui

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.

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