Don’t Let the Sun Burn you Out

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It’s always important, but the summer months are the most important time of year to take care of your skin. Whether you’re simply spending the afternoon in the park or enjoying a two week family holiday, the importance of sun cream is well known but not very often followed.

A lesser known fact is the effect of the sun during the winter months. You do not need to be actively sunbathing to be at risk of the sun’s rays; everyday exposure even on a cloudy day can be harmful. A good sun cream is vital to help prevent facial brown spots and skin discolorations, the appearance of facial red veins and blotchiness at an age when skin cancer rates are on the rise. It could even slow down the development of wrinkled, prematurely aged skin.

Here are our tips for looking after your health and wellbeing in the heat:

  • Always use a sunscreen which is at least SPF15 whenever you are outdoors. This could be for everyday shopping, walking, running, gardening or just waiting for a bus.
  • Don’t forget the often missed and sensitive areas i.e. lips, ears, eyes, neck, hands and feet. For those that may be receding or bald, don’t forget your head.
  • You must reapply your lotion every 2 hours no matter what you have been doing for maximum protection. Do it more often if you have been swimming, sweating or towel drying.
  • Choose a product that suits your skin — you may have sensitive skin or require a lotion that is fragrance-free or hypoallergenic, and don’t forget the fair skin of children who need extra protection such as SPF50.
  • When you next buy your face cream opt for one that includes an SPF as most skincare ranges now included SPF15 within day creams.
  • Everyone looks forward to summer to get a suntan and look bronzed, but experts warn to not seek a tan. There is no such thing as a “healthy tan” as this is the skin’s response to the sun’s damaging rays.
  • Even the rays from indoor tanning lamps are stronger than the sun’s rays, so these are best avoided.
  • Get your vitamin D from other sources. It is true that the sun does provide vitamin D to the body — but there are much safer ways to get this. Enjoy a rich diet of fish, milk, liver and eggs, or take daily supplements.

If you do suffer from sunburn, the key message is to act quickly. It is especially bad for young children. If you see any sign of the skin reddening you should get out of the sun; it could turn into a big problem later. Moisturise with an after sun lotion that contains aloe vera after a cool bath or shower to soothe the skin, but don’t scrub, rub or peel your skin. Take some Ibuprofen as soon as possible and for 48 hours afterwards to keep swelling and redness to a minimum. Also try to keep in the shade as much as possible to avoid burning further.

Another key treatment for sunburn — and a necessity for hot climates — is drinking plenty of water. If you are suffering from sunburn you will need to drink extra fluids anyway but it is important to drink plenty of water to remain hydrated.

Signs of dehydration vary between individuals, but include: a dry mouth, thirst, reduced urination, headaches, dizziness and sleepiness.

Why is it important to remain hydrated? Your body depends on water to survive, every cell, tissue and organ in your body depends on water to work correctly. Water makes up more than half of your body weight and it is important to remember to replace any water that is lost through your natural bodily functions.

You are at a higher risk of dehydration if you do intensive exercise, have certain medical conditions or are elderly. On average everyone should drink 8 glasses of water a day, but depending on your body this could be slightly less or slightly more.

You should increase your water intake if you are:

  • Suffering with medical conditions like kidney stones or a bladder infection.
  • Pregnant or breast feeding.
  • Spend time outside in hot weather.
  • Have been vomiting.
  • You are trying to lose weight.

If you struggle with water, or would prefer something with a little taste, just add a slice of lemon or lime (or both) to your water for a touch of flavour, or maybe try an alternative such as coconut water. You could also eat watery fruits such as watermelon or strawberries and vegetables such as cucumber or celery to up your water intake. Try to avoid caffeine-based sports drinks or energy drinks if possible as they are usually high in sugar and sodium which will dehydrate you even more.

Read a few tips for staying hydrated:

  • Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day. It could get expensive so buy a reusable bottle.
  • If you like to work out, remember to drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • If you are feeling hungry, try drinking water. Sometimes hunger can be confused with thirst, and this could contribute to a healthy weight loss plan.
  • Some people forget to drink water so try drinking it on a schedule. For example, when you wake up in the morning, with each meal and when you go to bed. Or have a small glass every hour.
  • Drink water when you eat in a restaurant, not only will you remain hydrated but it’s usually free!
  • Make yourself some fruit ice cubes — add strawberries, kiwi or lemon to your ice.

Looking after your health and wellbeing is easy with a Health Shield health cash plan. Health Shield offers cover for everyday prevention and treatments including trips to the dentist, opticians, physiotherapist, chiropractor and many more. For more information on a Health Shield health cash plan visit our Individual’s area for personal plans or Employers section to find the scheme that is right for your company.