From the road: 5 health tips for summer

By: Dr Denyse Allsop, Photography by: Dr Denyse Allsop


From melanoma to bacteria, Dr Denyse offers her top tips to minimise health risks in extreme heat.

From the road: 5 health tips for summer
From the road: 5 health tips for summer
A LITTLE FORETHOUGHT can often prevent problems on our summer holidays. Here are five pointers for a safe and happy break.

1. Reduce your melanoma risk
We are all aware of the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ campaign to prevent sunburn and UV-induced skin damage. Recent research shows that daily sun block application greatly reduces the incidence of melanoma. If you are concerned about nano-particles in sunscreen, as I am, use a nano-free cream from the Cancer Foundation. Call them on 1300 760 535 — you'll be supporting cancer research at the same time.

2. Avoid nasty diseases
Particularly at dawn and dusk, wear light-coloured clothing and use repellent on exposed skin to avoid being bitten by mozzies. They can transmit nasty viral illnesses like Ross River Virus, Dengue, Bahmah Forest Virus in Australia, and Malaria in nearby Asian countries... not to mention the annoying itch.
Tip: Think very carefully before you use Dettol and baby oil mixture as a repellent. Dettol's manufacturer does not recommend using its disinfectant undiluted on skin. Repeated exposure can cause a severe rash similar to those caused by industrial chemicals.

3. Drink the right stuff
In warm weather, be mindful of proper hydration (particularly if you're doing something active like bushwalking). The proper fluid to replace losses from perspiration is pure water. If bodily fluids are being lost, for example through diarrhoea or vomiting, they should be replaced with electrolyte solutions, available at any pharmacy. Sports drinks are loaded with salts and sugar and are not recommended, except in extreme situations. They can cause a number of complications for the older age group and people on various medications.

4. Bacteria alert!
As temperatures soar, bacteria multiply much faster, so safe food storage becomes even more important than usual. Do not keep food in the danger zone (5°C to 60°C) any longer than necessary.
Tip: A significant number of food poisoning cases occur at home (that includes your RV or tent) and the main cause of this is allowing juices from uncooked meat, chicken or fish to contaminate foods that will be eaten raw, such as salads. For the same reason, never put cooked meat back on the plate it was on when raw.

5. Take it slow
There is always temptation to cram as much into our holidays as possible, and sometimes this means we drive too fast or too far to maximize our holiday time. Driving tired is a factor in an exorbitant amount of traffic accidents, so be careful.
Tip: Driving at a slower pace allows us to make the journey an enjoyable part of the trip, rather than something that must be endured.

Please share any other tips you have below, and I would like to wish every one a safe and happy summer break!

WORDS Dr Denyse Allsop