Holidays can bring a whole host of health hazards from travel sickness to tummy upsets, insect bites to stings and sunburn even if you’re staying close to Home.
So if you’re swapping a foreign beach holiday for a UK seaside resort, the majority of summer ailments can be nipped in the bud with a little forward planning and some help from your local pharmacist.
Insect bites, stings & ticks
Insects are attracted by smells, so avoid wearing perfumes and scented hand or body lotion. They also love bright colours, so cover up with white or neutral clothes to deter stinging insects and stay cool at the same time.
If you do get stung, flick the sting out of your Skin first. Squeezing it could release more of the venom. It’s also worth squeezing a dot of blood out of your Skin to get rid of any venom that’s already been released.
For milder reactions, over the counter antihistamines will help ease the itching or you could ask your pharmacist to recommend a steroid Cream to counteract the itching. If you react severely then seek medical help immediately.
You can burn just as easily here in the UK as you would abroad. Rather than guessing, ask your pharmacist for advice on which type of sunscreen is best suited to your Skin type. You need to make sure the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays and offer a minimum SPF 15 protection.
Use it liberally and apply regularly throughout the day. If you do burn then a cool bath will ease symptoms and applying an after sun lotion will help soothe skin.
Prolonged spells outdoors in the sun, particularly while exercising and perspiring, could make you become dehydrated leaving you feeling dizzy.
Drink plenty of water when it’s hot and avoid drinking too much booze in the sun which can also result in dehydration. Stick to the recommended guidelines - two to three units per day for women and three to four for men – and drink plenty of water in between.
Certain medical conditions can reduce the efficiency of the body's cooling mechanisms - diabetes, obesity and chronic heart failure can increase the risk of heat stroke. To avoid suffering from heat stroke without becoming a hermit on holiday it’s important to find time to rest in the shade, particularly after a swim or a long walk where you can become overexerted, or lose fluids through sweating. While in the shade continue to sip cool fluids but avoid alcohol.
In cases of vomiting or diarrhoea it is essential to rehydrate.
Remember diarrhoea is also your body’s way of getting rid of toxins, so avoid products like Imodium for the first day, but drink lots of water to help flush your system through, and prevent dehydration.
Rehydration salts are particularly good for children and the elderly who lose essential minerals more rapidly. If you’re still suffering after 24 hours seek medical advice.
Being wary of what you eat and drink can help reduce the chances of tummy trouble. Barbecued meat that hasn’t been cooked properly in addition to picnic foods left to simmer in the heat can equal trouble.
Prickly heat occurs when you sweat in hot weather. The skin becomes inflamed with an itchy red rash that may blister.
So if we’re hit by a heatwave, wearing loose fitting clothes will reduce irritation and sufferers should take cold showers and dab affected areas with calamine lotion to offer relief.
Motion sickness happens when the brain receives conflicting signals. This triggers a sense of nausea and dizziness. Mild symptoms can be eased by closing your eyes and distracting yourself with music.
If you know you’re likely to suffer then take preventative measures. Ask your pharmacist about the options available including acupressure bands and anti sickness medicines.
If you’re in a pre holiday Rush or forget to pack your meds then use Ask Your Doctor for confidential and convenient access to certain medications.
Assessments are confidential and you can pick up your prescription medication from your nearest pharmacy. Visit www.allabouthealth.org.uk/ask-your-dr
Holiday at home first aid checklist
It’s sensible to pack a few essentials, especially at times when you’re not going to be near a pharmacy. Use the pharmacy finder at www.allabouthealth.org.uk to locate your nearest All About Health pharmacy for advice on all your holiday essentials:
Insect bite Cream
SPF 15 sunscreen
Alcohol-Free antiseptic wipes