With the harsh desert sun beating down upon us, we need to be aware of common summer ailments and ways to beat them, says Prof. Dr. Elham Abd El Zaher, Consultant – Dermatology and Venereology, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi.
What are the common health problems once faces during summer? How can one treat or avoid it?
- Dehydration: Dehydration can happen quickly and suddenly during summer, especially with old people and children. It can also occur after heavy exercise due to excessive sweating.
o o To Avoid/ treat: Drink lots of water at periodic intervals to stay hydrated.
- Heat stroke: It is a very serious condition that is characterized by high body temperature, confusion, short rapid breathing, sweating and fast pulse. In case of a heat stroke, the person needs to call the emergency.
o o To Avoid/ treat: Stay away from the direct sun rays and heat.
- Food poisoning: If the food is not well protected, refrigerated properly, and kept away from the heat; it can cause food poisoning
o o To Avoid/ treat: keep food away from high-temperature areas where it may get spoilt or decayed.
- Eye damage: The severe heat can lead to the dehydration of the eyes.
o o To Avoid/ treat: Always wear good quality UV protected sunglasses on.
- Car accidents: The excessive heat can cause drivers to lose focus while driving.
o o To Avoid/ treat: Avoid driving during the peak hours of heat during afternoons.
Which are the common skin problems during summer? How can one treat or avoid them?
- Sun burn: It mostly affects people with less melanin (people with light skin color) however it can still affect others with a darker skin color and would appear like chemical burns and blisters.
o o To Avoid/ treat: It is essential to use sunscreen before being exposed to the sun. After sun exposure, a person needs to have a Full body bath and after-sun moisturizing.
- Summer rash: Excessive sweating caused by the heat could cause a rash or even reach the stage of eczema.
o o To Avoid/ treat: Avoid wearing thick clothes. A person should wear light clothes and take a shower after sweating or being exposed to high temperature.
- Summer acne: Mostly occurs to women who apply heavy makeup. The makeup blocks the pores and with high temperature the pores will not be able to breathe.
o o To Avoid/ treat: Avoid applying heavy makeup. Deep face cleansing is required during the summer. One should apply light foundation and makeup. It is essential to clean the face properly after that with a special cleanser.
- Dry skin: Dehydration leads to excessive drying of the skin.
o o To Avoid/ treat: One should use moisturizers, and drink lots of water.
- Skin Fungal Infection: Fungal infections can increase with heat and humidity.
o o To Avoid/ treat: To treat, keep the skin fresh and clean.
- Athlete’s foot: If you are wearing enclosed shoes and socks the whole day, it may result in a fungal infection in the foot.
o o To Avoid/ treat: Keep the foot dry. Use powders and sprays to keep feet dry and wipe them regularly with disposable tissues.
- Skin cancer: Excessive exposure to the sun and UV radiation can cause skin cancer, mostly in people with less melanin (people with light skin color) however it can still affect others with darker skin color.
o o To Avoid/ treat: It is essential to use sunscreen before being exposed to the sun. Avoid the sun at its peak hours.
What precautions should one take as the summer season starts?
- Drink a lot of fluids especially water to stay hydrated
- Wear light clothes
- Take regular showers during the day
- Avoid being exposed to the sun during its peak hours 10 am to 4 pm
- Eat healthy food
Do sunscreens or other sun protection methods work?
Sunscreens are effective if the right sunscreen is used in the right way.
Which one to choose?
The best choice is to get a broad-spectrum sunscreen protection from UVA & UVB rays with the SPF being 30+ onwards. It should also be fragrance-free.
How to apply?
- Clean skin before applying the sunscreen.
- Put the first layer of sunscreen half an hour before going outdoors.
- Once outdoors, apply a second layer of sunscreen.
- It should be reapplied every 2 hours
- In case of washing the skin or drying the skin with a towel, reapply a fresh layer of sunscreen.
When should one avoid going out in the sun? When are the sun’s rays strongest? What happens if one is exposed to harsh sun rays?
Avoid sun exposure between 10 am – 4 pm. Instead, look for shady places.
The direct sun exposure can cause sun burn, eczema, heat stroke, dry skin, eye damage, skin cancer.
Which foods should one eat or avoid during summer time? And why? Please name at least 5 of each.
- Almonds (nuts): contains omega 3, protein, vitamin E, calcium, and zinc (helpful for the skin)
- Avocado: contains vitamin A, C, and E, iron, potassium (neutralizing to the cell damaging free radicals)
- Blue berries: contains antioxidants
- Pineapple: contains alpha hydroxy acids
- Salmon: contains omega 3, zinc
- Food such as: oyster, liver, baked beans, lean beef, and lamb
- Beverages such as: coffee and tea
- Food such as: Spicy food, oily junk food, sauce, rich meals (fried fish & chicken)
Prof. Dr. Elham Abd El Zaher, Consultant – Dermatology and Venereology, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi