At this time of year many of us are planning an escape to hotter climes, and more and more of us are travelling with young children to increasingly exotic destinations. These can be fantastic experiences but it is important to plan for your health needs before heading off says Dr David Smart, General Practitioner.
Most destinations in northern and central Europe, North America and Australia don’t require immunisations prior to travel, but if you are unsure always check with your local travel clinic or health provider.
Up to a quarter of us travel to more far-flung destinations without adequate vaccinations however, putting us at significant risk of life-threatening illnesses. Always check that you and your children are up-to-date with any immunisations that may be required, and allow yourself adequate time before travelling to get these, ideally two months.
Children should be immunised against Hepatitis A from the age of one and Typhoid after the age of two if appropriate, and antimalarials should also be taken by children if travelling to affected areas. If you are unwell with a fever whilst away or immediately on return, see your GP.
Children should not be in direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day (11.00am – 3.00pm) but encouraged to play in the shade (sunscreen will still need to be applied).
Sunscreen should be liberally applied to all family members 30 minutes before any sun exposure and every two hours thereafter through the day (more often if you’ve been sweating, or swimming and towelled dry).
On top of immunisations, the importance of sun protection cannot be overstated. As more is known of the harmful effects of skin ageing from UV radiation, and the dramatic increase in malignant skin cancers, we should protect ourselves and particularly the sensitive skin of our children whenever possible.
Children under six months old should not be exposed to direct sunlight at all, due to the extreme long-lasting damage that can be done to their sensitive skin, which is also too sensitive for sunscreen.
Children over this age should have a broad-spectrum sun cream applied with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15, and often higher depending on the climate. For prolonged sun exposure on the beach factor 30 water-resistant cream is recommended. Also don’t forget hats, sunglasses and protective clothing – slip on a t-shirt, slop on the sunscreen and slap on a hat!
- An adult spending a day on the beach should be expected to use half of a 225ml bottle of sun cream.
- Sun cream application has no known detrimental effect on Vitamin D production.
- Controlled studies have shown that regular use of an SPF 15 or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen reduces your chances of developing skin cancers by 40-50%, and premature skin aging by 24%.
What to pack?
- A first aid kit is an essential addition to the packing for all holidays. Simple ready-made kits can be bought from a pharmacist and basic components include: a thermometer, plasters, gauze dressings, tape, scissors, antiseptic cream/wipes, antihistamine cream, paracetamol and ibuprofen.
- I would also consider antihistamine liquid or tablets (for children over six and adults) for an itch, bite, swelling or any allergy related condition.
- Ice packs/gels are excellent for reducing swellings from bumps and also for relieving heat related discomfort.
- Calamine or lotions containing aloe vera are useful for sunburn and other irritable rashes, and rehydration sachets should be used for any prolonged vomiting or diarrhoea.
- Cough remedies and insect repellents might also be useful.
Hopefully with these tips, you’ll remember your holiday for all the right reasons!
If you would like to see a private GP at Bupa Cromwell Hospital, please call 020 7460 5700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org