Spring breakers need a few precautions while on a warm vacation to protect their health and ensure continued fun.
Dr. John Cecil of Lourdes Redicare said vacationers should practice good hand washing. Cruise ships often make the news if large numbers of passengers suffer stomach viruses. Cecil said cruise lines now combat this by posting hand wash stations and sanitizing solution in most passenger areas. Crew usually requires passengers to use the sanitizer before attending a meal.
He also recommends passengers book cruises on well-known lines, and request newer ships when possible. He added travelers abroad should probably select bottled water and be aware of cleanliness in restaurants and food preparation techniques. If anything seems to be in a steam table without stirring and replacement or is cool when selected, it should be avoided.
“For teens, spring break is often their first introduction to alcohol and they usually get sick after drinking too much too quickly,” Cecil said.
When outdoors or in warmer environments, Cecil said it is always good to sip on a non-carbonated, non-caffeinated beverage. He suggested 8 ounces of water every 30 minutes. If suffering an upset stomach, he suggests drinking a half-ounce sip of water every 10 to 15 minutes. Sports drinks should be avoided or diluted with water, as a person can have too many electrolytes in their bodies.
If a person believes himself to be at risk for motion sickness, Cecil recommends bringing a supply of motion sickness medication on a boat or ship. Ship’s stores may sell out of motion sickness pills.
Paducah dermatologist Doug Wilson said after winter, many people lose their protective tan and are vulnerable to the sun’s rays, especially if spending time outdoors by the water, at lower latitudes or on ski slopes. He recommends patients use sun screen with UV-A and UV-B protection at a SPF level of 30 to 45.
“Make sure you reapply sunscreen every two to three hours, especially if you are in the water as it tends to wash off,” Wilson said.
If sunburned, Wilson recommends applying Vaseline and an anti-bacterial ointment. If a sunburn does not cause blistering, he suggests using a moisturizer. Mild analgesics like ibuprofen may help control discomfort from the burn. While his medical texts do not single out aloe vera ointments as a recognized treatment, Wilson said he has used it himself and enjoyed some relief.
While paler people should not stay in the sun for more than 20-30 minutes without protective clothing and sunscreen, people using a stronger sunblock may be out for five or six hours with little risk, he said. While tanning beds may allow people to enjoy darker skin before leaving for vacation, they present risk.
“Any amount of time in a tanning bed is going to do damage you’ll pay for later. If you want darker skin, try a spray-on product that is natural looking and non-damaging to the skin,” Wilson said.
Dr. Mark Lynn owns Dr. Bizer’s Vision World, a chain of optometry stores with a Paducah office. He recommends patients protect their eyes when outdoors, especially spring break as it often brings people outdoors into brighter sun than they are accustomed to.
“Sunglasses should have UV-A and UV-B protection. Protecting the eyes from UV radiation decreases the risks of cataracts and getting cancer along the eyelid. Most over-the-counter sunglasses have tags describing their UV protection,” Lynn said.
If swimming in a pool, Lynn recommends using goggles with a firm seal around the eyes to protect from chlorine and minor infections in the water. Goggles and diving masks may be purchased with prescription lenses. If eyes become irritated by chlorinated water, he suggests using tear replacement drops to flush eyes instead of a red-removal product.
Polarized glasses neutralize glare from reflective surfaces like windows and water. Lynn said these glasses are popular with fishermen and boaters to see fish and avoid hazards. They can block display on LCD-type screens, and should be removed when using them.
“If you’re outdoors, polarized glasses are the way to go,” Lynn said.
Contact Alan Reed, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8658.