AFTER-SUN CARE for heatstroke and sunburn
Prevention is best, but when too much time in the sun leads to heatstroke or sunburn, here’s what you can do about it.
Baby, it’s hot outside! Gorgeous long summer days give us more time to relax outdoors, enjoying the beach, the water, barbecues and catching up with friends. It’s also time to be summer smart. UV levels are at their highest ever, meaning it’s vitally important to protect your skin and your eyes. Sunburn and heatstroke are the two most dangerous conditions caused by overexposure to the sun. Of course, the best way to avoid both is to limit your time in the sun, use plenty of sunblock, and wear protective clothing and sunglasses. But if you accidentally get caught in the sun a little too long, there are ways to ease the discomfort.
WHAT IS IT? Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures. It can happen, for example, when we fall asleep on a lounger in the sun, or spend all day outdoors at the beach, or it can affect children if they are left in a hot car. It is a condition that occurs when the body’s cooling mechanisms are overcome by heat, resulting in a core temperature of over 40°C. Heatstroke is preceded by signs of heat exhaustion, such as headaches, dizziness and weakness, and can result in unconsciousness and organ failure. It can even be fatal.
DIAGNOSIS: It’s important to take heatstroke seriously. See a doctor if you are feeling unwell. Doctors can usually tell whether you are suffering from heatstroke, but lab tests can also confirm the diagnosis, determine any damage to organs or rule out other conditions.
TREATMENT: This usually centres on cooling your body to normal temperature to prevent or reduce damage to your brain and vital organs. A bath of cold or ice water is one of the most effective ways of quickly lowering core body temperature. Another method is to wrap patients in a special cooling blanket and apply ice packs over their body to reduce their temperature.
COVER AND PROTECT