|Keeping Your Cool in the Sun|
Summertime in the South is a lot of fun, but it can be easy to fall into a few sun-related health traps. Protect yourself from the most common offenders: sunburns, dehydration and heat stroke.
Sunburn and Sun Damage
The American Academy of Dermatology suggests the following to prevent painful sunburn and sun damage of the skin:
- Using sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) with a SPF of at least 30.
- Seeking shade when your shadow is shorter than you are.
- Wearing long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses whenever possible.
- Using sun screen every day, not just days at the beach or lake.
- Using enough sunscreen to fill a shot glass (one ounce) at each application and reapplying every two hours. Most people only use about 25-50% of the recommended amount.
Dehydration and Heat Stroke
Spending time outdoors in the summer can lead to dehydration and heat stroke - both of which can be serious. The best way to combat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty. Make a habit of keeping water with you at all times and drink regularly throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to drink about two cups of water (16 ounces) before going outside, drink about a cup each hour that you are outside, and drink another two cups when you come back inside.
Heat stroke is a serious medical condition that can cause organ failure. As the name suggests, exposure to heat and the sun is the culprit. Symptoms of heat stroke can sometimes mimic those of heart attack and include a high body temperature, the absence of sweating, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, strange behavior, hallucinations, disorientation, and/or seizure.
To prevent heat stroke, avoid becoming dehydrated and avoid vigorous physical activities in hot and humid weather. Drink plenty of water and sports drinks (to replace electrolytes), but avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and tea. If you suspect heat stroke in yourself or someone else, immediately find ways to cool the victim and call 911.
All of us at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System hope you have a safe summer!