Help, I’m On Holiday!
Q: My husband and I spend our holidays enjoying as much poolside sunshine as possible, whilst sipping on the odd cocktail. Last year I got very sunburned, how do I avoid it this time?
A: Drinking in the sunshine can be a dangerous combination. “The alcohol’s effect on the brain causes you to be less sensitive to the symptoms of sunburn as they first occur,” explains Dr Richard Dawood, author of Travellers’ Health (OUP, Dhs100). You’re also more susceptible to heat exhaustion, heat stroke and stomach cramps. Make sure you drink lots of water so you stay hydrated, reapply sun cream hourly and alternate between sun and shade to ensure that you have all the fun without the burn. If it’s too late and you’re already lobster-baked, smother yourself with natural aloe vera. It contains latinan, which will take the heat out of your skin and act as a mild antiseptic. Avoid using oil-based creams that trap the sun’s rays and can further damage your skin, instead go for old favourite Calamine lotion.
Pack it in: Sun cream, organic aloe vera gel, Calamine lotion, soluble paracetamol.
Beat the bite
Q: Every year when I go on holiday, the mozzies manage to maul every inch of my body that isn’t covered. Usually we escape to somewhere hot, so I don’t want to wear long sleeves and trousers. How can I escape being nibbled?
A: It’s still a mystery as to why some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others, but it could be due to hormones or even the softness of your skin. Go for products that contain Deet and it’s best to spray onto your clothes rather than your body. This way it will last longer and cause less irritation to your skin. Try wearing breathable, loose cotton or linen trousers and a long-sleeved shirt, but if not, opt for brightly coloured clothes and stay away from strong perfume (which can attract the bugs). According to Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth, author of The Essential Guide to Travel Health (Cadogan Guides, Dhs40), “Once you’re bitten, apply a little mild steroid cream to stop the itching. Try something that’s about one per cent hydrocortisone, as they are better than antihistamines at reducing inflammation.”
Pack it in: Savlon spray, Aveeno hydrocortisone cream, Repel 100 Deet Insect Repellent.
Stop the sickness
Q: I’m going on holiday to India and I really want to try the delicious street food. I usually eat whatever I want, but friends tell me you have to be careful. What’s the best advice?
A: Most people worry about water, but actually badly prepared food is the most common cause of food poisoning. According to Dr Wilson-Howarth, the rule is: if it’s not cooked, don’t eat it! So avoid salads and fruit that can’t be peeled. If you’re unfortunate enough to get a case of Delhi belly, make sure you rehydrate first. A can of full-fat Coke usually does the trick, with an extra pinch of salt to help the fluids get into your body quicker. Once you’ve managed to expel the toxins, it will be 12 hours before you start to feel better.
Pack it in: Dioralyte rehydrating sachets, small insulated flask.
Q: My friends and I are going on a girlie trip round America, but I suffer from motion sickness. Rather than taking a large supply of brown paper bags and some breath freshener, how can I stop the sickness?
A: Whether you’re mile high, travelling by train or on a road trip, it’s the same part of your inner ear that’s causing you to feel nauseous. If you’re travelling by car, make sure you sit in the front seat, keep your eyes on the horizon and don’t read or smoke. Avoid food that’s high in salt and sip water. A tip is to grate ginger and keep it to chew on during your journey, or snack on a ginger biscuit to help settle your stomach. “Ginger has been used traditionally for nausea as it reduces stomach acid,” says nutritional therapist Helen Heap. “Liquorice has similar properties so take it either in tea form or chew on root liquorice. Peppermint is another natural remedy. If the sickness is brought on by nerves surrounding travel, take a supplement containing magnesium and B vitamins.” You can also buy travel band bracelets from Boots that affect the anti-nausea pressure points on your wrist.
Pack it in: Stugeron travel sickness tablets, Sea-Band sickness bands.