Traveller’s health – 3-part series: Part 2 – Common troubles while travelling*


Sun and its effects on travelers

Sun has innumerable effects on people, especially travelers. The most common of them being skin damage, it could also cause heat stroke in case of extremely hot conditions. The presence of UV radiation in sun rays can have damaging effects on skin which can be immediate or late and long term changes.
Source: TheGuardian
Early effects:

a) Sun burn, redness, soreness, swelling, blistering and boild

b) Tanning (formation of brown melanin pigmentation on exposed area)

c) Hyperplasia – thickening of all skin layers but particularly of the dead horny layer.

Late effects:

a) Ageing – degenerative changes of chronically exposed skin, apparent as loss of substance, dryness, coarseness, brown blotchiness, yellowing, wrinkling and laxity, with large blackheads and whiteheads.

b) Precancers and Cancers – persistent rough patches or irregular slowly growing lumps or sores, sometimes colored brownish or reddish.

Protection from Sun:

Usage of sunscreens or suntan lotion is an effective way of preventing skin damage due to sun rays. There are basically two types of sunscreens – absorbent and reflectant. Absorbent sunscreens are available with pharmacists and work by absorbing harmful UV rays before they reach the skin surface and dissipate them as heat. They are effecting with UVB rays but they are irritable to skin on most people. Reflectant sunscreens contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which are more medicinal and are used to apply as thick patches on lips and nose that are prone to sun burning. Sunscreens are gauged using their sun protection factor (SPF).

Other skin problems during travel

1. Blisters

The worst condition to ruin a holiday is to have a blistered foot. Ensure that the footwear to well suited to your needs, has a soft lining and the sole is well adapted to your feet shape. Make sure, your feet are ventilated and remain dry. Use talcum powder on feet before wearing socks.

2. Insect bites

Wildlife travelling requires you to carry insect repellents and creams to avoid getting bitten by common forest insects. Also it is useful to carry some antiseptics to counter-act with bites if required.

3. Ringworm

Ringworm is the fungus that affects the scalp and crotch area causes patches of red on the scalp. It causes itchiness and is more pronounced among children as they play and sweat more. Ringworm cream is available at the pharmacy and is good to carry it during travel.

4. Athlete’s foot

This is similar to ringworm infection caused by yeast but appears on the foot in between the toes. It can be very irritating and painful and ruin your holiday mood. Travellers are advised to use fresh socks each day and use talcum powder on the foot to absorb sweat.

5. Prickly heat

Prickly heat occurs during extreme summers when sun burns through our clothes causing small, tiny boils on the back and forehead. They are very itchy but once scratched, they can become red or bleed. Special prickly heat talcum powders are available in stores.

Eye infection – Conjunctivitis

It is the commonest eye infection of all producing a sticky discharge that glues the eye lids together. It spreads from person to person very fast through contact or touch of the fluid secretion. Eyes should be kept clean and special medical eye drops need to be administered every few hours in order to treat this infection.

Urinary tract infection

A common traveller’s problem is urinary tract infection. It is mainly caused due to improper sanitary cleanliness and/or poor hydration of body. There are good antibiotics that can treat the infection effectively and within a day or two but they should be consumer upon physician’s advice.

*- referenced from Traveller’s Health: How to Stay Healthy Abroad? – By Dr. Richard Dawood

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