Don’t let sunburn and dehydration spoil your summer fun
On a beautiful sunny day, nothing beats being outside and soaking up the sunshine. But there are a number of health factors that are well worth considering before you head out in search of a tan.
Even when it is cloudy, we can burn in the UK – sunshine doesn’t just happen on holiday abroad. Whatever your age, it’s important to enjoy the sun safely and protect your skin from sunburn using a combination of clothing, sunscreen and shade.
Remember there is no safe or healthy way of getting a tan. Neither does a tan help protect you from the sun’s harmful effects. Try and strike a balance between getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and protecting yourself.
When the sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm in the UK, try and spend time in the shade, or cover up with clothes, a hat and sunglasses. Generously apply a suncream with a protection factor of at least SPF15 and four stars (UVA protection) at least 30 minutes before going out and just before going out. Then reapply it regularly.
You can find shade in a number of different places - look for trees and foliage, umbrellas and parasols, canopies and awnings, tents and shelter or by just simply going indoors. Do be aware, however, that UV rays can penetrate some fabrics and can reflect off the ground, so in some case still ensure you are covered up/and or use sunscreen.
With clothes, the more of you that is covered, the better the protection. Opt for loose fitting garments made from denser weave fabrics that are deeper in colour. Dry fabrics will protect you better from the sun than if they are wet – particularly if they are made from cotton.
Wide brimmed or Legionnaire style hats are excellent for protecting the face and head.
Sunglasses are important, too. Always choose brands that offer the UV400 label and a 100% UV protection label or sticker. Wraparound style glasses offer protection at the side of the eye.
On very hot days it is sensible to avoid too much physical exertion. Keep your outdoor activities, gardening or even DIY to the cooler parts of the day in the early morning and evening.
Dehydration (not having enough water) is another problem that can be caused by hot weather, as well as high levels of physical activity or poor diet. Essentially, it is cause by not drinking enough fluid to replace the amount we lose.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluids such as water or diluted squash – this is better than tea, coffee, or carbonated drinks containing caffeine. Be aware that older people, babies and infants, athletes and people with a long-term health condition can be particularly at risk of becoming dehydrated.
Early warning signs of dehydration, include: feeling thirsty and lightheaded, a dry mouth, tiredness, dark coloured, strong-smelling urine and passing less urine than usual.