Keep Your Cool
Doctors tell you the best way to stay healthy this summer.
Overwhelmed by high temperatures in summer, your body's heat-regulating system falters and (in some cases) fails, leading to raised body temperatures and dehydration. You can prevent it by staying well-hydrated, avoiding exertion in harsh sunlight, carrying an umbrella when outside, and periodically cooling yourself even while indoors.
Watch out for early symptoms like heavy sweating, parched throat, muscle cramps and head and body ache. Cool and hydrate yourself quickly. Call your doctor if you notice extreme symptoms.
Normally you should drink between 1.5 and 2.5 litres of water every day. However, in summer increase your fluid consumption in proportion to how much you sweat and your activity levels. If you exercise and sweat it out more, you need to drink one or two extra glasses of water to replenish the lost fluids. If you exercise longer or live in warmer climes, you need to drink at least three extra glasses. Mind the electrolyte balance because you lose salt with excessive sweating. So, in addition to H2O, sip on cooling drinks like coconut water, lemonade and buttermilk through the day.
Beat Prickly Heat
When you sweat a lot, dead skin and bacteria can block the sweat glands, causing inflammation, rashes and itching. Keep your skin dry, wear loose cotton clothes, exfoliate your skin regularly and avoid oily moisturizers in summer. Take a bath twice a day and mop away the moisture. Use an underarm anti-perspirant deodorant and talc around the neck, chest and groin areas to prevent a break-out. To cure the sting of prickly heat, apply ice and calamine lotion on the affected parts.
Stop Stomach Infections
Germs multiply quickly in sultry weather, causing a lot of water and food-borne infections. Maintain good hygiene and only eat fresh foods. Avoid foods that have been kept outside the refrigerator for long periods, especially if left uncovered. Have plenty of fluids and rest if you throw up or get an upset stomach. See a doctor if you get diarrhoea.
Avoid a Sunburn
When our skin is exposed to sunlight, with UVA (ultraviolet A) radiation, melanin, the protective pigment that gives our skin its colour, is activated, adding a darkish tone to our skin. The greater the exposure, the deeper the tan. Whether you tan or burn depends on your skin type (people with a darker skin tone tan easily while those with fairer complexion are likely to end up with a sunburn). You can prevent it by slathering sunscreen (at least SPF 15), wearing sunglasses and carrying an umbrella when outdoors. Applying a cold compress, calamine lotion, anti-allergics and topical steroids can help in case of a burn. See a dermatologist if you wish to lighten a tan with medicated creams.
Never Get Toe Jam
When bacteria feed on the sweat on our feet, it often leads to an unpleasant smell. Take a bath when you get home after being outdoors for long, cleaning your feet with a gentle soap and plain water. Wear open footwear or cotton socks. Make sure you change your socks daily. Keep your feet as dry as possible, especially between the toes. A good quality anti-fungal powder works best to ward off excess sweat and bad odour. Washing your feet with vinegar, green tea or aroma oils can also keep your feet clean and fresh.
Experts: Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, director, Max Institute of Internal Medicine, New Delhi; Mumbai-based dermatologists Dr Rekha Sheth and Dr Apratim Goel.