Column: Stay healthy this summer with these helpful tips
Isn’t it great to be able to welcome the warmer weather, sunshine and longer days to Derbyshire? After the colder weather in late May, summer has finally made an appearance, writes Jackie Buxton, chief officer of Community Pharmacy Derbyshire.
Getting outdoors to exercise, play, meet people and relax is good for our physical and mental health, but for some people summer can be less enjoyable.
Hay fever affects many people during the summer and exposure to the sun can damage your skin.
The good news is that these can be controlled and prevented with a little help from your community pharmacy.
Hay fever is one of the most common allergies in the UK and is thought to affect around 13 million people.
Symptoms include sneezing and coughing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, headaches and feeling tired.
People with asthma may also feel short of breath, wheezy and tight-chested.
There is no cure for hay fever, but there are ways to relieve the symptoms by reducing your contact with pollen:
Put Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen
Wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes
Shower and change after you have been outside
Keep windows and doors shut
Vacuum regularly and dust with a damp cloth
Getting sunburned increases your risk of skin cancer and you can get burnt in the UK, even when it’s cloudy.
During the summer, try and spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. If you are going to be in the sun, cover up with clothing and sunglasses and use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 with four-star UVB protection.
Sunscreen has an expiry date – most last two to three years – so check yours is in date before using. If you need advice on sun protection and sunscreens, talk to your community pharmacist.
Always take extra care to protect babies and children as their skin is much more sensitive to the sun.
Also make sure you, your family and loved ones stay hydrated in the summer. Drink plenty of water and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
And if you have taken up running, walking or cycling over the last year – don’t forget to carry water with you and wear sunscreen.
Insect bites and stings
Most insect bites and stings are not serious and will get better in a few hours or days. They usually cause a red, swollen lump which may be painful and itchy. Some people have a mild allergic reaction where a larger area of skin around the bite or sting can become swollen, red or painful – this usually goes in a week. Occasionally a severe allergic reaction can happen. This will need immediate medical treatment. Look out for breathing difficulties, dizziness and swelling in the face or mouth.
Your pharmacist can advise you about medicines that can help. Applying a cold flannel to the area, washing it with soap and water and raising the area can help reduce any swelling.
And don’t forget your Covid-19 vaccination! We are currently vaccinating over 25s in Derbyshire as well as offering second vaccinations to adults who have already received their first.