Sun Care and Travel

Everyone loves sunshine; however, too much of the sun’s rays can damage your skin and this is why good sun protection is important for holidays both at home and abroad.
Getting too much sun gradually destroys the fibers in your skin, leading to premature ageing. More seriously, there is the potential danger of getting skin cancer.

There are four ways in which the sun can affect your skin

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it protects itself from sunlight exposure by producing melanin, which is a pigment that gives your skin its colour. When you have a suntan, it is actually a sign of skin damage.
You become sunburnt when you have stayed in the sun too long without using adequate sun protection. Your skin becomes sore, red and itchy. In severe cases, your skin produces blisters and this causes pain. A few days post-sunburn, your sunburned skin peels off; however, the damage still remains.

Sun exposure can lead to the premature ageing of your skin. The UVA sunrays deeply penetrate your skin, and this results in irreversible damage (e.g. wrinkles, age spots, leathery skin and sagginess).
Hyper-pigmentation or age spots are large and dark freckles which mainly appear on your face, neck, hands, arms and upper chest.

IPSA’s four-step guide to having fun in the sun

Step 1: Understand what sunscreen is
Sun protection factor (or SPF): An SPF tells you how good your sunscreen product is at protecting you against sunburn. The higher the SPF you use, the greater the sun protection. Your IPSA clinic recommends using a minimum SPF of 15.

The UVA star rating: The UVA rays are the ones that are responsible for the accelerated ageing of your skin and these rays are present all year round. The UVB rays are the ones that are responsible for sunburn and, ultimately, for skin cancer, and these are at their strongest during the summer months. The UVA star-rating system has five levels with one star being the lowest level and five stars the highest level. The level reflects the sunscreen product’s ability to absorb UVA compared to UVB light.

Water-resistant sunscreen: When you go swimming outdoors, specially formulated water-resistant sunscreen should be worn. You will need to reapply your sunscreen after you have been swimming (according to the manufacturer’s instructions), but this will have to be done less frequently than for non-water-resistant sunscreens.

Step 2: Use the correct SPF to match your skin type
When choosing the correct SPF for yourself, you need to consider your skin type, how dark/pale you are and where you are going on holiday, as your skin type will dictate how your skin is going to react to the sun.

Step 3: Develop the habit of using your sunscreen
The extent to which you need to protect your skin depends on what you will be doing during the day. If you plan to be outside for the entire day or you plan to go swimming, then it is essential that you take precautions and follow the golden rules for sun safety.

Step 4: Follow the golden rules for sun safety
During the hottest parts of the day, cover up with a hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved clothing
Make sure that you have the correct SPF for both yourself and your family members
Apply your sunscreen approximately 20 to 30 minutes before going outside and reapply your sunscreen after 20 to 30 minutes in the sun and after toweling dry or swimming
Exposure to the sun dehydrates your skin and it is important to use after-sun products to replenish your skin’s moisture
For sensitive areas of the skin (e.g. ears, nose, lips), use extra protection
As soon as you think your skin is starting to burn, get out of the sun

Travel Health

Bites and stings
Depending on whether you are holidaying abroad or in the UK, you will need a good insect repellent. Many insect repellents are available in various forms (sprays, lotions, creams and roll-ons) and they offer some defense against biting insects. Each product contains different ingredients with some insect repellents being more effective than others depending on which country you will be visiting. You can speak to one of IPSA Pharmacy’s team to help you decide which products will offer the best protection for your needs.
If you happen to get stung or bitten, products are available to help ease the itching, pain and swelling that often accompanies stings and bites such as sprays, creams and lotions. Your IPSA pharmacists can advise you on the best products to use for the stings or bites you will be treating.

Travel sickness
If you do suffer from travel sickness, then the thought of undertaking a long journey to reach your holiday destination can be daunting.

There are some simple steps you can take to ease the discomfort of travel sickness:

  • Keep any motion to a minimum. In a car, sit in the front seat and on a plane, sit near the wing. If you are on a boat, then sit on the deck in the middle of the boat.
  • Take in as much fresh air as you can.
  • Shut your eyes and try to sleep.
  • Take regular sips of cold water.
  • Take some peppermints or ginger biscuits with you, as both peppermint and ginger reduce your feeling of sickness.
  • Don’t read or watch films.
  • Don’t stare at moving objects (e.g. other cars or waves); instead, look ahead slightly above the horizon.
  • Don’t travel with a full stomach and don’t eat large meals when travelling.

First aid
A sensible addition to your holiday suitcase is a good first aid kit as this can help you to cope with minor emergencies. Ready-made first aid kits can be purchased at your IPSA Pharmacy or you could think about putting together your own first aid kit. If you are thinking about putting together your own kit, then your IPSA Pharmacy team can help to guide you regarding the essential items you should have for the specific country you intend to visit, or we can help you with a general first aid kit.

Sexual health
Ensure that you plan ahead to protect your sexual well-being before you go on holiday so that you do not return home with any sexually transmitted infections. For more information on sexual health, visit IPSA’s page on sexual health advice.

Tummy trouble
Problems with your stomach are common on holidays abroad, but you can usually avoid diarrhoea by taking some simple precautions: do not to drink local water if possible (especially ice in your drinks), ensure your food is properly cooked, and be wary of salads that have not been cleaned in bottled water, of seafood and of any raw foods.
If you do come down with diarrhoea, ensure you have packed an effective diarrhoea treatment. Remember to also buy oral re-hydration products, because these will help you to replace your lost body fluids and essential salts.

Ear pain
If you do suffer from ear pain when flying, then earplugs might help. Your IPSA Pharmacy has products that include a special filter that regulates the air pressure and reduces harsh noise during flights. Alternatively, sucking boiled sweets during both take-off and landing can help to balance the pressure within your ear, or you could place a few drops of inhalant (e.g. menthol or eucalyptus) on a handkerchief and inhale this during take-off.