The summer has reached its peak. For some, it’s a reason to rejoice and head to the beach, while others make a beeline for the nearest air-conditioned mall or other suitable dark place. Whether you’re sun-shy or a sun worshipper, protection from the heat and UV rays shouldn’t be the last thing on your mind.
With France and other European countries experiencing record highs, we thought it might be appropriate to offer a few wise words.
Why is it so important to shield yourself from the sun? You might not feel anything while you’re sunbathing – only later will your skin start to demonstrate the effects: turning red and raw (not to mention the long-term effects of repeated sun exposure). Adequate protection reduces your risk of developing skin problems, which means you’ll look younger for longer, since sunscreen helps prevent photoaging (changes to skin induced by UV-light).
To get through a scorching summer day, shade is your friend, as are suitable clothes, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen on all exposed parts of the body, including the lips. Fair skin is the most vulnerable to burns, but darker-skinned people should also be aware of the need to cover up. The best way to take care of your skin is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which reflects most UV rays. Since the sun is strongest between 10.00 and 16.00, it’s also a good idea to save your outings for the evening.
Besides your skin, it’s worth thinking about what you eat and drink too! It’s a myth that ice cream or iced drinks can quench your thirst: they may temporarily mask the symptoms, but they don’t solve the problem. Cold substances only dilute the heat inside the body, but the only effective remedy for overheating is to increase your fluid intake. Unfortunately, cold beer doesn’t work either; nor does any other alcoholic drink. What you need is water, water, and more water: the more H2O you drink, the better you’ll feel. If you’re a fan of fatty, spicy, or salty food, be warned: your favourite dishes may only make you feel hotter.
This summer is proving to be the hottest in the last 139 years, but by taking a few simple steps to look after your health, you don’t have to let the weather spoil your plans.
This has been a service announcement from yours truly. Stay safe.