As we get closer to the start of summer, you should be thinking about ways to keep you and your family healthy. We tend to focus more on illness prevention in the winter, but there are some important precautions to take in the warmer months as well, especially in regards to the sun. These are our top tips for summer health care.
Sunscreen and Alternatives
The dangers of sunburn go far beyond itchy, red skin. Sunburn almost always causes permanent skin damage and highly increases skin cancer and melanoma risk.
When choosing your sunscreen, remember that the American Academy of Dermatology recommends a minimum of SPF 30. The FDA requires an SPF of at least 15 to receive a sun protection label. Even though the best protection is to not let the sun hit your skin for more than a few minutes, you should be able to enjoy soaking in all that Vitamin D and spending time outdoors this summer. If you’re worried about sunscreen affecting your skin, remember that the sun can do way more damage than commercial sunscreen can. Check out these natural brands and consider these additional protectors:
- Foods rich in antioxidants and healthy fats like colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, and seeds can help strengthen your skin. Plus, they’ll give you a healthier glow than the sun can!
- Astaxanthin, most commonly found in salmon, helps to protect fish from the sun’s rays. Eating salmon and snacking on chips and guac (avocados are great as well) by the pool doesn’t sound too bad!
- Various oils can serve the same purpose as sunblock. If you prefer to stay away from commercial sunscreens, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the beach with bare skin! Coconut oil, sesame oil, wheat germ oil, and red raspberry seed oil all have sun-blocking qualities.
- Aloe vera is a seemingly magical plant that you’ve probably used to cool your burns, but have you considered using it before you go out to protect you from burning in the first place? It isn’t the best solution, but it can protect your skin for short amounts of time. Be careful, though – aloe vera lotion, much like other oils, won’t last if you wear it in the water.
Insect Repellant & Alternatives
Insect bites are more harmful than the itchiness they cause. The West Nile virus is the most common issue resulting from mosquito bites, and it can be deadly. Additionally, even though most bee, wasp, and yellow jacket stings do not have long-term effects, people are often allergic and don’t know it until they are stung. Stings can cause severe swelling, dizziness, nausea, and even difficulty breathing.
Commercial insect repellents can feel sticky and smell like chemicals. If you don’t like using them, consider these alternatives to keep you and your family healthy:
- Make your own spray with these recipes and natural ingredients.
- Wear light colors like white and pastels – insects are less attracted to them AND they can keep you cooler!
- Plant bug-repellers like lavender, basil, lemongrass, and mint. Chrysanthemums and marigolds are just two beautiful flowers that can also help!
- Drink water even if you don’t feel like you need it. While overhydrating is dangerous, it is ridiculously rare. Hydrate all throughout the day, especially if you’re spending it outside, and even more especially if you’re sipping on Mai Tais. Alcohol is dehydrating, which means you’ll need twice as much water if you’re drinking alcoholic beverages. Fruits and vegetables, particularly watermelon and cucumbers, have high concentrations of water and can help you hydrate.
- Wear sunglasses whenever you’re outside. The sun can do more than just make you squint – it can cause permanent vision damage.
- Take vacations! Aside from being plain fun, relaxing by the pool will lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and the stress hormone cortisol which all contribute to your mental and physical well-being.
Stay safe this summer, and don’t forget to check in with your doctor if something seems off. Winter is not the only time for colds, and a well-visit with your physician may save you from bigger problems later. Make sure you’re covered for those visits! Fill out our information form here or call (615) 541-4257.