How to stay healthy in the sun

Sunscreen provides more than just protection from sunburn. Sunburn is an instant reaction to extreme sun damage, but constant sun damage occurs slowly over time without you ever noticing.

With the ozone layer depleting and cases of skin cancer on the rise, your skin needs all the help it can get to avoid harmful exposure to the sun. Over time your face and exposed skin may go blotchy with brown or red patches of damage appearing, and sunscreen can help to avoid this.


Heat exhaustion and heat stroke

This can happen if you’re in an unusually hot climate, during a heat wave, or if you do very strenuous exercise. Heat exhaustion is caused when you get very hot and your body starts to lose water or salt. This leads to the symptoms listed below and generally makes you feel unwell. Heatstroke happens when your body is no longer able to cool itself and your body temperature gets dangerously high.

Sunstroke is caused by prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, and you can easily avoid it by wearing a sun hat and taking regular breaks in the shade.



  • Tiredness and feeling weak
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Lower than usual blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Feeling sick or being sick
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sweating more than usual
  • Extreme thirst
  • A faster than usual pulse
  • Few toilet trips and dark urine

If ignored symptoms can develop to include confusion, disorientation, seizures, and sometimes even loss of consciousness.


What to do

If you notice any of the above symptoms in a child, seek medical advice immediately. babylon GPs are available in minutes wherever you are, so don’t hesitate to book a consultation. If you are over the age of 18 and notice the above symptoms in either yourself or an adult, try the following:

  • Lay down in a cool place, either a room with air conditioning or a cool place in the shade
  • Remove unnecessary clothing and expose as much skin as possible.
  • Use whatever you have to cool your skin as much as you can, use a cool wet sponge or cloth or cold packs around your neck and armpits, or if you can, wrap yourself in a cool wet sheet. If you’re in public a very effective cooling method is to run cold water over your wrists, as the blood runs close to the surface here the cooler blood will circulate and help to cool your body from the inside out.
  • Fan your skin while it’s damp, as evaporating water will help to cool your skin.
  • Drink water, fruit juice or a rehydration drink.

You should start to feel better within 30 minutes.

If you don’t improve after 30 minutes, or you suspect that at any point you may have lost consciousness or had a seizure or fit, call for emergency help.


Who’s most at risk?

You should keep an eye on:

  • Babies and young children
  • Elderly people
  • Those already dehydrated from an existing illness such as gastroenteritis
  • People doing strenuous exercise for long periods of time (be careful if you’re gardening for a long time in the sun and be sure to take plenty of breaks in the shade with a cool drink)

Children love playing in the sun, and there’s one very simple way to get them to stay in the shade: give them the tools to build a den in the garden. A couple of blankets, some washing line or string, a few chairs and some clothes pegs are all you need, and they’ll happily stay under that shady shelter all day.


Dr. Martine De Couteau has provided her top tips on how to cope with the heat:

1.     Avoid the sun when it’s at its hottest, between 11am and 3pm. Get into the shade if you are feeling hot.

2.     Apply lots of high factor sun cream to protect against UVA and UVB rays. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see the sunscreen on your skin after you’ve applied it.

3.     Drink lots of non-alcoholic cold liquids to avoid dehydration and help cool you down.


If you have any concerns our babylon doctors are available to consult in minutes, wherever you are.