A scorching hot day, warm or even hot night, dry, dusty air and absence of rainfall are some of the hallmarks of the summer – this time of the year (dry season).
In certain states across the country, especially in the north, the sun could be as intense as biting one’s skin, hypothetically, while in some other states, including Lagos that is a coastal area, the sun is hot enough to cause immeasurable discomfort.
It is worthy of note that there are some side effects of excessive exposure to the sun, including increasing the risk of developing skin cancer, freckles, which are small light brown patches on the skin, mottled pigmentation, sallowness, which is the yellow discolouration of the skin, telangiectasia, which is a condition in which widened tiny blood vessels cause threadlike red lines or patterns on the skin and wrinkles.
According to WebMD, an American corporation that reports news and information pertaining to human health and well-being, exposure to the sun causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on the face and it accelerates ageing of the skin.
It added, “Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet light damages the fibres in the skin called elastin. When these fibres break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily – taking longer to heal. So, while sun damage to the skin may not be apparent when you’re young, it will definitely show later in life.”
But, beyond the impact of sunlight on the skin, the prevailing heat wave has also been found to cause dehydration, facilitate the spread of chicken pox and of course, stress and fatigue.
Meanwhile, to avoid these negative impacts of this hot weather, the following are some helpful tips to stay healthy in this dry season:
Drink lots of water to stay hydrated:
When people are exposed to the sun or heat, it is a given that they would sweat and be dehydrated, whether they feel the hydration or not. This explains why medical experts have advised that people should drink enough water. According to a report by Keck Medicine of USC, posted on Forbes, signs of dehydration include yellow urine, headache, muscle cramps, fatigue, less urination, light-headedness and constipation. But a consultant dermatologist, Prof. Frances Ajose, had told our correspondent that drinking a lot of water helps to ensure that the skin has enough fluid to replace the quantity lost as sweat and that needed to get rid of the toxins in the body. She also recommended that the minimum quantity people in a tropic region, like Nigeria, should drink is four litres of water, an equivalence of eight sachets of water daily. However, this hot season, people are advised to take more than that, and possibly go around with either bottle or sachet water, to serve as a reminder. Experts say one cannot go wrong with the water, because not only does it regulate the temperature, it keeps the skin soft, helps the kidneys to function and lubricates joints and muscles, thereby reducing the likelihood of fatigue. Ajose added, “For example, nobody living in Lagos should drink less than four litres of water a day. Anybody who takes less than that is not taking enough water and that is not good for the body in a hot season like this.”
Mind what you wear:
Even though people are advised to, as much as possible, limit their exposure to the sun this season, there are always compelling needs for people to enter the sun, whether due to job demands or emergency situations. And findings showed that the sun is usually intense between 10 am and 4 pm. However, in such situations, experts advised that it is best for people to wear protective clothing, like long-sleeved shirts, pants and hats that are broad wide, so as to protect the face, scalp and ears from the sun. This would help to keep their skin fresh, avoid irritation and wrinkles. “It is important for people to remain in a shade as much as possible, especially during the peak hours of the sun, to minimise sun exposure and the tendency to sweat so much,” Ajose added.
One other important way to keep the eyes safe during this hot season is to wear sunglasses when entering the sun, but people tend to shy away from it maybe because they do not know its advantage or they are just shy to wear one. It is worthy of note that the ultraviolet ray of the sun could damage some sensitive cells in the eyes, which in the long run could affect the person’s vision later in life. The World Health Organisation said current scientific evidence suggests that different forms of eye cancer may be associated with life-long exposure to the sun and that Melanoma is the most frequent malignant cancer of the eyeball and it sometimes requires surgical removal. A common location for basal cell carcinoma is on the eyelids. Also, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States found that sun-related vision problems include macular degeneration, pterygium and cataracts, which the WHO described as the leading cause of blindness in the world. Therefore, constant exposure of the eyes to the sun is dangerous. “People should use sunglasses, because excessive ultraviolet radiation also damages the cornea,” she added.
Have your bath as much as you can:
One other way to stay cool this season is to have a bath as many times as possible. Apart from the fact that it is refreshing, it washes off the sweat the body must have secreted. Experts say if sweat is left to dry up on the body, it could lead to body odour. This is in addition to the fact that excessive heat causes people to become darker in complexion.
Drink water and salt solution twice a day:
Ajose, who is a consultant dermatologist, pointed out that when people sweat “excessively”, they lose water, salt and other substances, thus to replenish their system, they should take water and about twice in a day, they should take water and salt solution. She added, “The body protects itself through tanning and sweating. The skin has an inherent protective mechanism to reduce penetration of ultraviolet radiation, which is carcinogenic, and that mechanism is what is called tanning. The other way the body protects itself from the environment is by releasing sweat and when it dries, it cools the skin. When you sweat, you lose a lot of water, salt and other substances. Therefore, it is possible to get dehydrated, not only of water, but also of salt. Consequently, it is important to hydrate oneself with water and a pinch of salt. So, when you take a solution of water and salt, it replenishes your body.” She, however, added that people who are hypertensive and people who already consumed food with a lot of salt need not take the salt and water solution.