BEAT THE HEAT
Hurray for summer! The days are longer and life is simply more enjoyable when we can be outside swimming, hiking, playing and picnicking. But what if the sunshine and heat doesn’t always agree with you… and you feel hot and bothered rather than carefree and energized? We’ve gathered together the best ways to soothe, cool and calm the body to help you enjoy these sunny summer months and reduce some of the unwelcome side effects!
First up, here are a few little tricks we can recommend for extremely hot days when it feels impossible to cool down and relax.
- - Set up a fan and place a bowl of ice just in front of it to cool the air.
- - Fill a hot water bottle with ice cold water and place this under your ankles or knees for a quick way to cool down your whole body.
- - Keep all your curtains and blinds closed during the day to block out heat from sunlight.
- - Switch off appliances that are on stand-by mode such as computers, TVs and gaming consoles – they all emit heat into our homes.
- - Avoid heavy carbohydrate and protein meals as they increase metabolic heat and warm us up.
- - Create a wind tunnel by opening windows that are positioned opposite each other and placing fans in front of them – one facing inwards to the room and the other facing outwards – it’s surprisingly effective!
- - Hang a damp sheet in front of an open window – the warm air from outside will hit the cool sheet, evaporating the moisture and creating a cool airstream.
- - Fill a misting spray with peppermint tea, chill it down in the fridge and then use it as a cooling and refreshing facial spritz throughout the day.
If you suffer from heat rash (also called prickly heat), you’ll know how annoying it can be. Itchy and prickly, the creases of arms and legs, neck, chest and shoulders come out in small red spots (papules) and the hotter your skin becomes, the worse the irritation is. The fair and sensitive-skinned among us tend to be most susceptible to the dreaded prickly heat. The cause? It’s usually down to sweat glands becoming blocked so, first things first, you need to cool off the affected areas and reduce the sweat!
- - Try holding a cold damp cloth or covered ice pack against the skin.
- A light application of calamine lotion can also help to soothe the situation.
- Take a tepid shower and use a mild fragrance-free soap.
- Wear loose cotton clothing that will cover irritated skin from the sun’s rays.
- Try taking an antihistamine each morning to combat the rash.
- Throughout the day, spritz problem areas with a thermal water mist such as Avene Thermal Water.
- Apply sunscreen that is specifically targeted at sensitive skin types.
- Change out of wet swimwear immediately after swimming.
- Avoid scratching or rubbing the affected area as this can break the skin, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to infect it.
- Avoid skin products that contain petroleum or mineral oil as they can cause further irritation.
It can be tempting to spend the whole day in the sunshine, especially when we’re on vacation. Sightseeing in the heat or prolonged time lounging at the pool can result in heat exhaustion – your body’s way of telling you that you have over-heated and need to cool down immediately! Symptoms include headache, dizziness, fever-like symptoms, excessive sweating and feeling nauseous. We’ve uncovered these key treatment steps if you think you may be suffering from heat exhaustion:
- - Lie down in a cool place with your feet slightly raised
- - Drink plenty of water
- - Apply cool packs around the neck and under the arms
- - Spray the body with a water mist
- - Take a cool bath as this will help reduce body temperature quickly
The medical term for a sun allergy is Solar Urticaria and sufferers can find themselves covered in itchy spots and welts within a few minutes of being exposed to the sun – not great! The exact cause isn’t known, but it is thought that sunlight activates the release of histamine (the compound our bodies in response to an allergic reaction) into the skin cells. The good news is that the symptoms of a mild sun allergy disappear when exposure to the sun is reduced, so stepping into the shade is a good idea and limiting time in the sunshine to early morning or early evening is preferable. Use hyper-allergenic skincare and try calamine lotion or aloe vera to soothe. Your doctor can run tests for Solar Urticaria and may prescribe special creams or ultra-violet light therapy.
Sure, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to over-doing it in the sun, but we’ve all been caught out and missed rubbing sunscreen on ourselves – usually on those hard-to-reach places! Red and sore sunburned skin is no fun but, thankfully, there ways to soothe the pain and speed up recovery. Here are our favorites, step by step:
- 1. Take ibuprofen to minimize the swelling.
- 2. Jump in a cool shower and pat skin gently afterwards.
- 3. Apply an aloe vera-based moisturizer, or better still, squeeze out the gel from an aloe plant stem for an extra soothing effect.
- 4. Sit in a cool place and drink a large glass of cool water to replace the fluid that has been lost via the skin’s surface.
- 5. Pop your moisturizer or aloe gel in the fridge and reapply frequently to the affected areas to help the skin heal and minimize that tight, hot sensation.
It’s amazing how quickly we can become dehydrated when the sun’s blazing and the mercury’s on the rise. Health experts recommend that, during a heatwave, we replenish our bodies with regular drinks of water, even when we don’t feel particularly thirsty. The trick is to prevent getting to that parched point (as this is when we are already significantly dehydrated) – although diuretics such as tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks won’t help top up our lost-water levels! Stick to clear liquids and eat plenty of watery fruits and veg, such as strawberries, celery and cucumber. Here are some ideas for super-hydrating and homemade drinks that aren’t full of sugar and artificial colouring.
Sources: healthline.com, NHS.co.uk, mayoclinic.org, mentalfloss.com
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