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Can Danger Lurk Under The Tropical Sun When You're On Vacation?

Sep 3, 2008
Even though these sun related problems, sunburn, heatstroke, and heat exhaustion are not diseases, they can be very serious and could ruin your vacation. They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this is particularly true when dealing with the sun. Keep in mind that the sun's rays in the tropics are more intense between noon hour and three p.m., as well as at high altitudes, even if it's a cloudy or overcast day.

What can you do to prevent getting sunburned?

In general, the lighter or fairer your skin is, the easier you may sunburn. Clouds offer little or no protection from a severe sunburn, so why take a chance of ruining your holidays when getting a painful sunburn is easy to protect against? To prevent getting a bad sunburn, especially if you sunburn easily, you should use a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30, or stronger if possible. Use sunscreen liberally, wear a wide-brimmed hat, buy UVA & UVB protection certified sunglasses, and wear long-sleeved shirts and slacks. If you can, try to stay out of the sun between noon and three in the p.m.. Build up your exposure to the sun gradually each day. Limit the time that you spend in the sun to approximately fifteen minutes the first day, and increase your time in the sun gradually on subsequent days.

What can you do to treat a bad sunburn?

You can ease the pain of a sunburn if you soak in a cool bath three to four times every day. If you add baking soda to your bath, it will help even more. Cool showers may hurt too much, and not be as soothing or effective as cool, relaxing baths. To help with any headaches, or pain and swelling, take an aspirin or other pain medication such as Ibuprofen or Advil. It may not be a good idea to take any aspirin based pain medications if you are on a blood thinner or have an ulcer. If you're not sure about taking these pain relievers, check with a doctor or pharmacist. Avoid dehydration by drinking at least six to eight glasses of water per day. Do not break any blisters if you can avoid it. Any broken blister can easily get infected, particularly in the humid climate of the tropics. Wash them gently with soap and warm water if they happen to break.

If your sunburn does not appear to be getting better and you still have pain after a couple of days, you develop a high temperature or fever, have a splitting headache that won't go away, are vomiting or have diarrhea, feel dizzy or confused, or your eyes hurt and light bothers them, you must seek medical attention immediately.

What can you do to prevent heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is totally preventable. To avoid this serious problem, wear a wide-brimmed sunhat, drink lots of liquids, and stay out of intense heat and humidity.

What should you do if you have the symptoms of heat exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is caused by a combination of very high temperatures and humidity. This may result in the loss of fluids from your body through excess sweating. These fluids must be quickly replaced or heat exhaustion can result.

The usual symptoms include headache, lethargy, fatigue, giddiness, as well as muscle cramps. The immediate treatment is to move out of the sun or heat and drink a lot of liquids, preferably commercial beverages containing electrolytes, such as Gatorade. Do not drink alcohol as it will make your condition worse.

If you do not feel better and show positive signs of recovery in a very short period of time, have someone take you to a hospital immediately as your condition could quickly progress into a true medical emergency, heatstroke.

What must you immediately do if you get heat stroke?

When heat exhaustion is not successfully treated immediately, it can result in a very serious medical emergency. Heatstroke is characterized by high body temperatures of 102 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit, or 39 to 41 degrees Centigrade. There is also a cessation of sweating. The symptoms of heatstroke include flushed, red skin, headache and confusion which can progress into delirium and convulsions, and can be fatal.

Note: Someone must help you get out of the sun or heat and rush you immediately to a hospital or medical center.
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