Summer Heat

Posted on Dec 21, 2013 in Health Topics

Summer Heat

Beat the summer heat

Summer in South Africa is no laughing matter. Everyone knows that sinking feeling when temperatures in the 30+ region are forecast. So what can you do, besides waiting for winter with bated breath? Quite a lot actually.

Take action: Organise your trips to meetings and shops for the early morning, before the real heat sets in; keep a bottle with partly frozen water in your bag or in the car – and drink as much as possible; wear natural fabrics – cotton allows your skin to breathe, unlike synthetic materials such as nylon; invest in a mosquito net and bars for your bedroom window or outside door, so that you can sleep with the doors or windows open; put a large plastic container of cold water in front of your fan – this will bring down the temperature; in an emergency, wrap wet towels round your feet or put on a damp garment.

Deep heat

Sun rays can burn even through thick glass, and under water.

Up to 35 percent of UVB rays and 85 percent of UVA rays penetrate thick glass, while 50 percent of UVB rays and 77 percent of UVA rays penetrate a metre of water and wet cotton clothing.

Take action: Apply sunscreen while driving your car on holiday, and water resistant block if you’re swimming. Stay indoors or in the shade between 10 am and 3 pm. Put on sunscreen if you’re going to be outside for more that 20 minutes.

Get the rub on sunscreen

Apart from only settling for a factor-30+ sunscreen this summer, what else should you know about this powerful weapon against the sun’s rays?

Take action:

Always shake your bottle of sunscreen before using it; rub it in well to ensure even coverage; when applying sunscreen to your face, first rub it into your hands before applying it; wait ten minutes before having a swim, or the sunscreen will just wash off; and reapply it after swimming, drying off with a towel or sweating.

First aid for sunburn

Sunburn easily results in first-degree burns, especially in young children.

In severe cases, secondary burns could result. While children should be kept out of the sun between 10 am and 3 pm, parents can’t always keep an eye. So what should you do if your child has had too much sun?

Take action:
If needed, treat the child for dehydration; soothe the burns with cool water or compresses and let the child rest in a cool room; 1% hydrocortisone cream relieves pain, and tea tree oil may soothe the burn; use paracetamol for pain; apply lotion to relieve itch from peeling; and watch for signs of heat exhaustion.

Hit that heat rash

Prickly heat, a common heat-related skin rash, often occurs in children during summer.

It’s a pimply, red skin eruption, which is most noticeable in the folds of the skin and on parts of the body where clothing or nappies fit snugly.

Take action:

Keep your child comfortably cool and avoid dressing her in tight fitting clothing in hot weather; choose natural fabrics as these allow easier movement of air across the skin than artificial fibres; if it’s very hot, make sure your child plays inside, or in the shade; give her plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration; and use talcum powder or corn starch in her skin creases.

Be sun-savvy this summer

The bronzed, sun-baked tan that used to be the essential summer fashion accessory is fading in favour of a spray-on tan or a natural look.

But skin care in summer goes beyond sunblock.

Take action:
Stay indoors or in the shade between 10 am and 3 pm; play tennis or golf early in the morning or late in the afternoon; wear sunblock with a sun-protection factor of at least 15 on all exposed areas of skin every day, rain or shine; combine the sunblock with long sleeves; and use plenty of moisturiser if you swim a lot.