As the summer season is in full swing and we spend more time outside in the sun, it is important to know why we should protect our skin using a sunscreen, how to avoid dehydration or even how to treat an insect bite. Hence why, this month’s blog post highlights the four main tips on staying healthy during those hot summer days.  

Sunscreen 

Sunscreens are designed to protect our skin from the invisible rays that can cause the skin to darken and burn. This ultraviolet (UV) radiation could also damage the DNA in our skin cells, causing genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. There are two different types of sunscreens: Physical blockers which reflect the UV rays from the sun and contain active ingredients as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The second type are Chemical blockers that absorb the sun’s UV rays through their chemical bonds. As this happens, the components of the sunscreen slowly break down and release heat.

sunscreens

When buying a sunscreen, it is also important to check the SPF which stands for Sun Protection Factor, referring to how effective the sunscreen protects against the UVB radiation. Although, no sunscreen will be able to block all 100% of UV rays, a sunscreen with SPF between 15 and 50 is recommended as it protects against 97 percent of rays, preventing sunburn and several types of skin cancer. 

However, it is important to realize that sunscreens are not the end-all solution, as it needs to be frequently reapplied and therefore, the pharmacist should recommend using hats, sunglasses and avoiding sun exposure when possible.  

For further guidance:  

https://www.rpharms.com/resources/quick-reference-guides/sunscreens 

https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/special-reports/special-report-promoting-self-care-this-summer/ 

https://www.livescience.com/32666-how-does-sunscreen-work.html 

 

Hydration 

With summer also comes warmer weather which introduces an increased risk of dehydration (not having enough water). People who are most at risk are elderly, children and people with either heart or breathing problems. Some of the symptoms include darker colored urine, thirst, dry mouth, dizziness or tiredness. To prevent dehydration, drinking plenty of fluids is vital – even if you don’t feel thirsty. Other aspects to consider are eating foods with high water contents and avoiding intense exercise. 

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For further guidance:  

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/heatwave-how-to-cope-in-hot-weather/ 

https://www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/hydration 

 

Hayfever 

product-piriton

Patients may suffer from hayfever when their bodies produce IgE antibodies to pollen or house dust mites etc. During the summer months, grass and weed pollen allergies are very common with symptoms including: watery or itchy eyes, itchy throat, sneezing, headaches and shortness of breath. Often symptoms are more severe when pollen counts are higher, therefore patients may be able to predict the extent of their hayfever problem by monitoring pollen counts for that day. Staying indoors when the pollen count is high is an easy and effective solution to symptoms. Patients are also advised to avoid drying washing outside during high pollen counts and showering regularly. Over the counter antihistamines are the usual treatment for mild hayfever; chlorphenamine (Piriton) may be advised by the pharmacist or either loratadine or cetirizine (the two OTC non-drowsy antihistamines). For further information, here are some useful websites: 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/ 

https://www.boots.com/health/allergy-and-hayfever/what-is-hayfever 

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Insect bites 

Insect bites and stings are other common conditions during the summer and often pain and itchiness in the surrounding area of skin can last a few days or more. Common OTC treatments for associated pain are ibuprofen and paracetamol. Aspirin should not be used in children under 16, and you should check what other medication the patient may be taking before an over the counter supply. Itchiness can be relieved by topical antihistamines e.g. Anthisan cream, or antihistamine tablets mentioned above. If the bite or sting becomes infected, patients should be referred to their GP. 

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Other things to consider: 

  1. Keep the area clean 
  2. Apply a cold compress or ice pack 
  3. Elevate the affected area in an attempt to reduce swelling 

 For further guidance: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insect-bites-and-stings/treatment/ 

 

We hope you found this blog post useful and that it has given you some indication on how to stay safe during those summer days.  

Keep an eye out for our next blog post in September and keep following our Instagram and Twitter accounts (@altpharmcareers) for regular updates! 


 

Thank you for taking your time to read this blog post and stay tuned for more as we upload each month!

APC Committee

 

 

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