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A Rundown on Sun Protection and Treatment for Heat Illnesses

A Rundown on Sun Protection and Treatment for Heat Illnesses

Summer is the perfect time for fun in the sun and outdoor adventures with family and friends. But nothing can put a damper on a good time like a sunburn or heat-related illness.

Before heading out to the great outdoors, don’t forget to check the weather forecast. By being informed about sun protection and treatment for heat-related illnesses, you can be prepared and keep yourself safe in sunny weather.

Take the Sun Seriously: Sun Protection and Treatment

Getting ready for a day in the sun? The first thing to do is protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Not only can too much sun exposure lead to skin cancer, but sunburn can also hinder your body's ability to cool itself and can contribute to dehydration. Follow these tips to protect your skin:

  • Buy sunglasses that offer protection from UVA and UVB rays, and wear a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible.
  • Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply it to all exposed skin before going outdoors. Reapply after getting wet or if you’re outside for more than two hours.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when practical, or wear shirts or swimsuit cover-ups made from tightly woven fabric.

If you do get a sunburn, it may be quite uncomfortable, depending on the severity of the burn. But there are things you can do at home to help soothe your skin:

  • Take cool showers or place clean, cool washcloths on the burned areas.
  • Apply moisturizers that contain aloe vera or soy. You can also use hydrocortisone cream but be careful not to use lotions that contain benzocaine or lidocaine, as these can make burns worse.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication if necessary.
  • If your skin blisters, do not pop the blisters. You can cover them with dry bandages to help prevent infection.
  • If you develop a fever with a sunburn, seek medical attention right away.

Watch for Warning Signs

Sunburn isn’t the only risk you need to protect yourself against on hot summer days. If you stay in the heat for too long, especially if you are exercising and being active, your risk of heat-related illnesses increases. Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke can help you avoid becoming severely ill.

Heat exhaustion can happen when your body loses too much water and salt, usually due to excessive sweating in hot conditions. Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headache
  • Heat cramps in the muscles
  • Heavy sweating
  • Nausea
  • Passing out

If left untreated, heat exhaustion can turn into heat stroke, a life-threatening condition that can cause the body’s temperature to rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion and slurred speech
  • Extremely high body temperature (103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)
  • Fast pulse
  • Hot, dry skin or heavy sweating
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Seizures

If you or someone you are with experiences symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, take immediate action:

  • If the person is conscious, give sips of cool water.
  • Move to an air-conditioned room and remove the person’s outer clothing, including shoes and socks.
  • Place cold, wet cloths on the person’s skin, especially the neck, head, armpits and groin areas.
  • Take the person to the emergency room or call 911.

Keep Cool and Carry On

When the temperature outside soars, always remember to take extra precautions to prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion. In addition to protecting yourself from the sun, keep cooler by following these tips:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink more water and other healthy fluids (don’t wait until you get thirsty). Avoid alcohol and sugary beverages, as these can make you more dehydrated by causing you to lose more body fluid. If you are sweating, a sports drink can help you replace the salt and minerals you are losing.
  • Take breaks in air conditioning: Spend time in air-conditioned places as much as possible.
  • Schedule carefully: Aim to be outside during the coolest hours of the day, such as early morning and evening.

Looking for more ways to stay healthy this summer? Find a provider today.