Updated 10 October 2016

Hot Weather Hazards

Summer’s hidden health risks and how to treat them...

Think that getting burnt is all you need to worry about while lounging in the sun? Think again. Read on for summer’s hidden health risks – and how to treat them…

Sunscreen Scare

You know the drill: slather yourself in sunscreen to ward off UV rays. But what if the thing harming you is the sun screen itself? “Allergic reactions look like eczema (redskin with overlying peel,which can weep) in sun exposed areas. This is called photocontact eczema, which maybe acute enough to blister,” says Fatema Esmail,PhD fellow at UCT’s Division of Dermatology, Groote Schuur Hospital. There action is likely to be caused by ingredients such as PABA,benzophenone 3 and oxybenzones. To treat it, stop using the sunscreen and get a prescription for topical cortico steroids.

Material Girl

Step away from the air-con and the icky side of summer kicks in. You know, where your shirt sticks to your skin. So choose

clothes made from summer-wise fabrics like silk and cotton, which are 100-percent natural – the fibre properties allow air to move through them, says WHfashion editor Mari Groenewald. If your clothes cause skin irritation or acne, “opt for a pure silk blouse or lightweight tunic to offer relief and allow your skin to breathe,” says Groenewald. Or try a cotton T-shirt or vest: “Organic cotton is even better, as it’s grown without pesticides and other chemical treatments that could affect your skin,” she says. Still unsure? Consult your dermatologist before embarking on a fabric shopping spree.

Your Feet

Warm weather means sandals, flip-flops–or barefeet. Besides the obvious risks of going bare, fungal infections area concern too.

“Plantar warts are common,as is athlete’s foot:symptoms include red, wet, cracked and itchy skin between your toes; itchy blisters in the arch of your foot; or a dry, scaly fungal infection,” says podiatrist Sean Pincus. He advises that you always wear flip-flops, but if you’re set on ditching the shoes and find yourself with an infection, get yourself a good OTC antifungal ointment. If it doesn’t work within seven days, see a doctor or podiatrist.

Your Eyes

Remember your parents telling you that if you looked directly into the sun, you’d go blind? They weren’t entirely off the mark. Over time, UV rays can cause cataracts, macular degeneration and pterygium, where tissue grows over the white part of your eye. And that blurry eyed symptom you get when walking inside after time in the sun? That’s photokeratitis, or “snow blindness”, short term damage due to unprotected UV exposure. The easiest way to prevent eye damage is to wear sunglasses with UV protection. And researchers at the US Dana Centre for Preventive Ophthalmology found that just wearing a sunhat can protect eyes. Our advice: wear both.

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