With the warm weather set to continue over the coming week, it’s important we all take steps to protect our health and wellbeing.
When outdoors, remember to Be Sunsmart – Slip on clothing, Slop on broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen, Slap on a wide-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on sunglasses with UV protection – and remember to protect your skin even if it’s a cloudy day!
For more Sunsmart advice see our blog here
Most people living in Ireland have skin type 1 or 2 – it burns easily and tans poorly, so we are particularly at risk from too much sun exposure. Whilst we all know what we should be doing to Be Sunsmart, sometimes things don’t go to plan by forgetting to apply or reapply sunscreen or falling asleep in the sun.
Here are some things you can do to help soothe Sunburn.
- Get out of the sun immediately
- Cool down the skin to provide some relief – sponging the skin with cold water, applying an icy compress to the worst areas, or having a cool bath or shower to help minimise the sting.
- Drink plenty of water as there is a risk of Dehydration
- Apply aloe vera or an after sun gel like La Roche Posay’s Posthelios to help soothe and moisturise the skin. Calamine cream can also help to soothe mild sunburn.
- Take a painkiller (paracetamol or ibuprofen) if required
- Seek the advice of your pharmacist or a healthcare professional if blisters develop
The implications of sunburn go beyond just the pain and discomfort at the time. Repeated bouts of severe burns increase the risk of developing skin cancer so it’s important to avoid too much sun exposure.
During the hotter weather spells, dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are all conditions that can develop, particularly in younger children and those aged 65 and over.
It’s important to drink water regularly during hot, humid weather – if we lose more fluid than we take in we can become dehydrated
How to spot dehydration:
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Feeling thirsty
- Dry mouth, eyes and lips
- Passing only small amounts of dark urine
How to treat dehydration:
- Give them plenty of water to drink.
- Drinking an oral rehydration solution like Oral Rehydration Salts or Phizz. This helps replace salt and other minerals which have been lost. Ask our pharmacist for advice on which rehydration solution would suit best.
- If feeling unwell once rehydrated, seek assistance from a healthcare professional straight away.
If left untreated, dehydration can develop into Heat Exhaustion – a more serious condition. It’s important to rehydrate as soon as possible.
Extended periods in the heat (indoors or outdoors) can take its toll on our health and can lead to heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of salt and water from the body, usually through excessive sweating.
How to spot heat exhaustion:
- Dizziness and confusion
- Being very thirsty
- Loss of appetite and feeling sick
- Excessive sweating with pale clammy skin
- Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
- Fast breathing or pulse
- A high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above
How to treat heat exhaustion:
- Move to a cool place
- Help them lie down and raise their feet slightly
- Give them lots of water to drink (Rehydration and sports drinks are also suitable)
- Cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water. Cold packs round the armpits and neck can also help. Fan them.
- Check their breathing, pulse and responsiveness.
After 30 minutes they should start to cool down. If not check for signs of Heat Stroke.
Heat stroke is more serious than heat exhaustion and can be life-threatening.
How to spot heat stroke:
- feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
- feeling confused
- not sweating even while feeling too hot
- a high temperature of 40 degrees Celsius or above
- fast breathing or shortness of breath
- a fit (seizure)
- loss of consciousness or not responsive
If someone is experiencing signs of heat stroke call 999 for an ambulance.
While waiting for help:
- Move them to a cool place and remove their outer clothing.
- Try and cool them down – fan them or sponge them down with cold water to keep them cool. If available, use cold packs placed in the armpits and around the neck.
Don’t hesitate to ask your local Adrian Dunne Pharmacist for advice and looking after your health and wellbeing this summer.