Stay covered, stay protected this summer
Stay Covered, Stay Protected This Summer. If you thought that cotton wear was the sole mean to keep yourself cool during the summers, then there is more to what meets the eye; for the sun and the temperature comes at a price and it is the skin that pays the price.
If you thought that cotton wear was the sole mean to keep yourself cool during the summers, then there is more to what meets the eye; for the sun and the temperature comes at a price and it is the skin that pays the price. Although the hot season carries opportunities to relax and have fun, it also carries along with it numerous dermis woes. The skin that looked incandescent during winters may now begin to look dull, blemished and oily. The hottest time of the year calls for good skin care as one enjoys the heat and freedom of summer.
Staying outdoors may be fun but it is essential to protect the skin from the harmful UV rays that can create havoc on the skin. Prolonged subjection to the sun may lead to sun burns that occur on the exposed part of the body. Experts say that fair people are most vulnerable to it. Moreover, it may also lead to miliaria, a skin disease, marked by small and itchy rashes. A common ailment in hot and humid conditions, miliaria crystallina appears like crystals and is composed of water. While miliaria rubra is slightly heated and penetrates the skin causing swelling and inflammation, miliaria profunda is larger in size, formed deeper into the skin and is more painful.
"The sun gives off ultraviolet rays. We divide them into categories based on the wavelength. There are UV-A, UV- B and UV-C rays. Of these, UVC rays are almost completely absorbed by the ozone layer and do not affect the skin. UVB affects the outer layer of the skin and is mainly responsible for sunburns. Studies are showing that UVA is a major contributor to skin damage", says Siddhartha Sengupta, Chief General Manager, Corporate Communications, Media & Public Relations, Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies.
"The skin is susceptible to tans and burns. There are mainly two kinds of tans. Immediate tanning is caused by Ultra Violet B and tends to fade away faster while late tanning is caused by Ultra Violet A. Photo dermatitis or sun allergy, as it is commonly known, occurs when the exposed part of the body skin turns dark and begins to itch", says Prof. Dr. Rathindra Nath Dutta, Consultant Dermatologist, and Colombia Asia Hospital.
It is advisable to go out in the evenings since the hottest part of the day is believed to be the most damaging. Staying out in the sun and being exposed to the radiation for long periods of time should be eluded. In unavoidable circumstances, it is recommendable to use sun protection. Sunscreen is a highly recommended defense against sun burn and skin cancer. It is available in creams, gels, lotions, ointments, wax sticks and spray.
"Indians have tanned skin. I do not recommend any strong SPF (Sun Protection Factor) but a SPF of 30 is sufficient", says Dr. Nilendu Sarma, Consultant Dermatologist, Belle Vue Clinic, Kolkata.
"Make sure to apply sunscreen fifteen to thirty minutes before you go out. Put on enough so that it takes a full minute to rub in. If you swim, sweat, or are outdoors for a long time, reapply every two hours", he adds.
How would one know what features to look for while purchasing a sunscreen? A good sunscreen should be water resistant so that sweat or water cannot easily remove it. As per the American Academy of Dermatology, sunscreen-SPF is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce a sun burn on sun screen protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sun burn on the skin. Skin damage can happen even without a burn. Plus, higher SPF numbers do not give proportionate protection. SPF 15 deflects 93% of sun-burning rays, whereas SPF 30 deflects 97%.
Not only are the UV rays responsible for sun burns but also for premature aging and development of skin cancer.
"Excessive exposure to the direct rays of the sun may lead to skin tanning which may also lead to skin cancer medically. Moreover, if you do not apply sunscreen, you may see yourself aging faster", says fashion designer Agnimitra Paul.
In contrast to the usual idea of wearing sleeveless to bear the heat, experts say that doing so may damage your skin instead of protection.
"Clothing can protect the skin from UV rays to some extent. Clothes provide different levels of UV protection. The most protective are long sleeved shirts, long pants, or skirts, which provide more protection. Dark colours are said to provide more protection. Some materials are being made nowadays that provide protection from UV rays", says Siddhartha Sengupta.
"A hat will provide some protection. A wide brimmed hat would be better, as it would provide protection to ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and head. If it does not provide protection to the neck, one can wear a hat with a wider brim, or wear a scarf first to cover the neck and then wear the hat over it. The underside of the hat should be dark coloured. The material should be tightly woven. For example, a straw hat does not provide proper protection from UV rays", he adds.
While sweating is viewed as a source of discomfort to many, it is a process that helps the body to remain cool by regulating the body temperature. In reality, evaporation of sweat from the surface of the skin results in loss of heat thereby reducing the body temperature. However, excessive perspiration, known as hyperhidrosis, may prove to be harmful.
"The solution to the problem calls for frequent baths in slightly cold water. We do not recommend any medicinal soap unless specifically required. Continuous wearing of perspiration soaked clothes may result in fungal infesting especially in the folds and joints of the body", says Dr. Sarma.
"The sun's rays along with the heat give rise to diseases", says Dr. Dutta. Heat combined with humidity can create a hazardous situation since humidity slows down the body's ability to evaporate sweat.
Heat sickness can gingerly come in phases. Heat syncope, a slender episode of dizziness usually happens in a hot environment mainly due to dehydration. Heat cramps may occur due to low levels of salt resulting in sweating, further causing painful muscle cramps. A person exposed to the sun for long duration may suffer from profuse sweating, extreme redness in the hand, lowers legs and feet. The body's response to loss of water and sweat would create extreme weakness and fatigue. A body temperature of over 104 degrees would call for an emergency. Symptoms include confusion and dizziness, hallucinations, throbbing headaches and chills. What is worse is that heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability is not given proper medical treatment.
Although anyone can be a victim to the heat related illnesses, young children, older adults with chronic medical conditions are at a greater risk. Parents and care takers must limit the children's activities on hot days and stay on the alert for any heat related diseases.
"It is advisable to drink plenty of water with salt. Intake of fruit juices increases the sodium and potassium content in the body" says Dr. Nath Dutta.
At least eight glasses of water is recommended. It is always better to carry a water bottle and remember to drink every thirty minutes. Water not only helps to keep fresh, but also prevents dehydration and help wash out a lot of toxins.
"Avoid intake of oily food. It is essential to maintain a clean and hygienic diet. The most common tendency to switch to roadside drinks is also not advisable. Cold drinks may cause no harm if consumed occasionally", Dr. Sarma adds. Intake of food rich in vitamins and minerals such as fruits and vegetables should be included as a part of diet and sherbets and ghols should be consumed to keep oneself cool.
The skin is oilier during the summer and dust combined with the oily secretions may clog the pores leading to acne and pimples. Doctors suggest that the face be washed with plain cold water at least four-five times a day. Also, the oil and bacteria tend to get trapped in the bristles of the make-up brushes that result in clogged pores. It gives rise to the need to wash the make-up on a regular basis.
"Applying mashed papayas may help to tone the skin. It is essential to cut down on fatty foods during the season", says Agnitmitra Paul.
Summer is a time for vacations, cookouts, outdoor sports and beach trips. If you want to make optimum use of the season, it is better to play it safe and make no compromise with the skin. For the most prominent organ of the body should maintain its glow throughout the year.