For many people, the lyrics of Ella Fitzgerald’s famous song certainly ring true, but enjoying the sunshine and getting outdoors and active comes with a number of risks that have the potential to make the livin’ less easy. Pharmacy teams need to be properly equipped to manage first aid situations and help customers showing symptoms of over-indulging in the heat.
Customers who are vulnerable may need extra attention during the hot weather. Public Health England has identified categories of vulnerability, which include:
Warmer conditions can affect even the healthiest of people, especially during a heatwave. It is therefore important to understand the best ways to mitigate the risks and to safely enjoy the sun.
The first step is to advise customers to check the weather forecast and adequately prepare for the conditions.
Whether at home or abroad, keeping safe in the sun is paramount. Sunburn can increase the risk of developing skin problems in later life, such as skin ageing and more serious conditions like skin cancer.
Sunburn is caused by overexposure to UV rays, which can damage the skin. Underestimating the strength of the sun is common; the wind and getting the skin wet, such as going in and out of the sea or swimming pool, has a cooling effect so people don’t realise they’re getting burnt.
Obvious symptoms include reddened, warm skin, blistering and often pain in the affected areas. Skin may start to flake and peel after a few days, and will usually fully heal within a week. Appropriate advice is to get out of the sun as soon as possible and remain in the shade or indoors until the skin recovers. It can help to cool the skin by sponging it gently with cold water. Taking a cool bath or shower for no more than 10 minutes is another effective way to ease soreness. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important to cool down and prevent dehydration. If dehydration does occur, oral rehydration sachets can be recommended.
Mild sunburn can be treated with an after-sun lotion that can help to soothe the skin and painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be taken to relieve pain. Customers with more serious burns that have blistered or caused skin damage should be referred to the pharmacist or their GP. Customers should be advised to protect their skin from strong sunlight by covering up with suitable clothing, finding shade and regularly applying a high SPF sunscreen.
Remaining out of direct sunlight during peak hours, between 11am-3pm, is advisable