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Spring Break Health Safety Tips

By: Brady Lewis

It’s hard to believe that Spring Break is around the corner! It is one of the most popular times of year to travel, and with any big vacation comes a great deal of preparation. Whether you are hitting the surf or the slopes, it is always a good idea to be prepared for the elements. Protect yourself against these things to make your trip even more safe and enjoyable.

Sun Protection Tips

Remember that you haven’t had prolonged exposure to the sun all winter long. Those of you going to the beach will want to tan, but you’ll burn instead and be miserable. This will ruin what’s left of your few precious days off. Wear protective clothing, seek shade, and apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater every two hours while in the sun. Apply a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or greater every few hours as well. The same goes for those of you headed to the mountains. The ultraviolet radiation is even stronger at higher altitudes and reflects off the snow, so protecting your exposed skin is just as important as it is on the beach.

Be especially protective of your skin if taking medications that make you more sensitive to sunlight.

Here are a few common medications that make your skin more sensitive to the sun:shutterstock_316332653

  • doxycycline (Vibramycin, Oracea)
  • sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (Bactrim)
  • ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • glyburide (DiaBeta)
  • diltiazem (Cardizem)
  • amiodarone (Cordarone)
  • nifedipine (Procardia)
  • furosemide (Lasix)
  • hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide)
  • ibuprofen (Advil)
  • naproxen (Aleve)
  • celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • isotretinoin (Accutane)
  • acitretin (Soriatane)

Protect your eyes from the sun too. Beachgoers should find a pair of sunglasses labeled “blocks 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays” or “UV absorption up to 400 nm” to ensure adequate eye protection, and skiers should look for goggles with these specifications as well. Polarized lenses will help to reduce glare.

Prevention of Dehydration

You lose a lot of fluids when you sweat and when you drink alcohol, and both frequently occur on vacations to the beach and to the mountains. Signs of dehydration include a lack of energy, muscle cramps, and dizziness when standing up from a sitting or lying position. Be sure to drink plenty of water, aiming for 64 fluid ounces each day. If you are in an area where the safety of the water is questionable, only drink bottled water.

Protection from Dry Skin

For those of you participating in snow sports, be aware that moisture evaporates more quickly from your skin at higher altitudes than at sea level.

Use these tips to help keep your skin hydrated:

  • Take a short, warm shower instead of a long, hot one, and pat yourself dry with the towel instead of rubbing.
  • Apply a good moisturizing lotion after bathing and drying off. Fragrance-free and alcohol-free lotions are preferred as they tend to irritate and dry the skin out less than other lotions.
  • Before going to bed, coat particularly dry areas of skin with a layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline). This prevents any additional moisture from evaporating away from the skin.

Protection from Insects

shutterstock_197378060The CDC has recently issued travel warnings for Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America, and the Caribbean due to an outbreak of Zika virus, transmitted through mosquitoes. Use an insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to protect against mosquito-borne diseases. The illness related to Zika virus is usually quite mild, but in a pregnant traveler, the virus can be spread to the unborn baby and cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant are strongly advised to discuss their travel plans with their doctor, and they should take serious precautions to avoid mosquito exposure if they are cleared to travel.

Also, those of you traveling abroad should read our post about the immunizations you should receive before leaving the country and other health precautions to consider.

Spring Break trips are meant to be a blast, so use these tips to help keep your vacation both safe and fun!