Sunburn and Heat Exhaustion
By: Alere Staff
It’s that time of year when sunshine is plentiful and we just can’t seem to get enough of it. Natural light is good for our general health, has healing properties, gives us energy and makes us feel good. However, too much sun can be too much of a good thing.
Excessive exposure to the sun can be a health hazard. There are three types of ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun: UVA, UVB and UVC. While UVA and UVB rays are able to get through the atmosphere, UVC rays and some UVB are absorbed through the Earth’s ozone layer.1 Both UVA and UVB are present when the sun is shining and can reach your body through cloud cover and also reflected by water and sand. Besides burning the skin to a bright pink and contributing to dehydrating; overexposure to the sun can have long-term effects of premature aging and skin cancer. Medications such as certain antibiotics, birth control pills and benzoyl peroxide products, as well as skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, can also be affected with too much sunlight in all skin types.1The very young, the very old and people with chronic medical conditions are also particularly sensitive and should be monitored carefully as they spend time out in the sun.2
The good news is that sunburn is always preventable. Avoiding the sun mid-day, wearing appropriate cover such as wide-brimmed hats, wearing light long-sleeved clothing and keeping sunglasses handy all help with sun protection. Using a high SPF (sun protection factor) lotion every time you go outside will also protect your skin and keep you feeling energetic and healthy. Applying sunscreen should be done regularly when you are exposed to the sun and should cover all skin that could be exposed to the sun.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are two conditions that are caused by working in hot conditions or in hot weather.2 A person developing heat exhaustion may have a headache, feel dizzy or nauseated, sweat profusely, experience cramps in their abdomen or limbs and feel their heart racing.2 It is important to get someone with these symptoms out of the sun and heat, laying down and cooled. Sponges of cool water are recommended to apply to as much of their body as possible. It is also important to have them sip water to rehydrate as much as they are able.2
Heatstroke occurs if symptoms of heat exhaustion are able to advance and the person can become unconscious quickly. Medical attention must be sought immediately and, while it may be tempting to provide the person water, fluids should not be given.2 If you are taking medications such as warfarin (or brand of warfarin such as Coumadin®) be sure to alert emergency personnel.
By paying attention to your exposure to the sun and making everyday precautionary measures a habit, you can enjoy the beautiful sunshine and remain healthy throughout the years.
COUMADIN® is a registered trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharma Company. Alere is not affiliated or associated with Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharma Company or the COUMADIN® trademark.