Summer Hazards Part I – Watch Out for the Sun

The heat of summer has arrived, at least temporarily, making it a good time to present some topics related to living in a warm environment.

Let’s discuss the advantage of remaining well hydrated during the time of the year when fluid loss through activities can cause significant problems. Some experts believe that everyone should drink 1 oz of fluid for every 2 pounds of body weight per day. Admittedly that is a large amount of fluids but our bodies are more than half water and the millions of chemical reactions that are ongoing in our bodies every minute of every day require water, among other elements to keep going. In hot and humid weather, the elements work against us to keep that fluid reserve “topped off”. Exercising during this kind of weather exacerbates the potential for water loss and subsequent poor regulation of body temperature. It is this poor regulation of body temperature that can lead to the various forms of disease after heat exposure, ranging from mild to life threatening. So, stay very well hydrated during the summer months and stay alert to the problems that can arise with exercise and poor fluid intake.

Everyone likes the appearance of tan skin and unfortunately the source of that sought after appearance is the sun. A certain amount of sunlight is a very good thing and in fact a lack of sunlight over time can lead to such problems as vitamin D deficiency and poor control of calcium metabolism and regulation. The downside of this exposure is that the UVA and UVB rays given off by the sun and absorption of those rays through your skin can damage the skin leading to lack of elasticity and signs of early aging. Far worse than this effect is the tendency to alter the genetic characteristics of skin cells that can lead to cancer of the skin, especially the most severe form, melanoma, which can be fatal.

Fortunately there are things that can be done to minimize the effects of exposure to the sun. Try to avoid exposure to bright sun between the hours of 10 AM and 3PM when the sun’s rays are most direct and therefore stronger. Make use of the various sun blocks on the market. These sunblocks are usually designated by a SPF number that attempts to give us, the consumers some way of comparing them Regardless of the SPF number, the sun block needs to be applied and reapplied every couple of hours in order to give the protection it promises. The higher the number gives you some idea as to how often it needs to be reapplied. The higher the number, theoretically the less often it needs to be applied. Make it a rule of thumb to reapply all sun block at least every hour or two , and, if your skin gets wet, it may need to be applied more often.

My next post will deal with other summer hazards; insect bites, poison ivy, and miscellaneous others.

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Editor’s Note: this post first appeared in Pediatric Safety in June of 2012.  Given the extreme warm weather we are currently experiencing in many areas of the U.S., we thought it might be a good time to run it again

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Skoloff received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from The Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He is a past Vice Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, a past Chairman of the Infection Control Committee at the Loudoun Hospital Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In his 41 years as a practicing pediatrician he has kept hundreds of kids and families healthy and safe and plans to continue to do so for years to come. Dr. Joe believes strongly in the combined power of parent and physician working together for the health of their children. He is an advocate for children everywhere and and adheres strongly to the principles of the American Academy of Pediatrics.Dr Joe is a member of the PedSafe Expert team

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    1. […] Summer Hazards Part I – Watch Out for the Sun focused on counteracting the effects of the sun:  remaining well hydrated during the time of the year when fluid loss through activities can cause significant problems and minimizing the potential harm that can be caused by direct exposure to the sun.  Part II focuses more on the pests that come around in the summer months – the insects, spiders and snakes – and the problems that often come along for the ride. […]



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