Top Holiday Health Myths

Many of us are currently packing our suitcases ready to jet off on our summer holidays, and the sunny break is most people’s favourite time of year. However, holidays can quickly be cut short or be completely ruined by an illness, accident or summer health issue such as sunburn. Part of the problem is there are lots of myths about holiday health, so it’s hard to find out exactly how to prevent mosquito bites and if it’s actually safe to have ice in your drink. The experts at Babylon are here to dispel those holiday myths!

1.    I don’t usually get bitten by mosquitoes – so don’t need to protect myself against malaria, dengue etc

Mosquito bites can be annoying and painful wherever you travel, so it’s always recommended to use an insect repellent. However, if you’re visiting a region which has malaria or any other disease spread by mosquitoes, you need to take further precautions – even if you’re not usually affected. Many people think mosquitoes ‘like’ them or ‘don’t like them’, and while some may be more prone to react to bites, this is not the case. It’s not always possible to see mosquito bites on the skin, so you may be bitten without realising. If recommended, you should always take anti-malarials whether you’ve noticed a bite or not.

Top Tip: Use an insect repellent with high concentration of DEET, sleep under a mosquito net and keep windows and doors shut at night.

2.     Sleep is the answer to jet lag

It’s a common misconception that you can ‘get over’ jet lag with a nap when you arrive at your destination. In fact, to set your body clock to the new time zone you should stay away while it is light and go to bed at the proper time.

Top Tip: Get outdoors and stay active to keep yourself awake until bedtime.

3.    A sunbed will prepare my skin for the sun

Despite the constant warnings about cancer risk, many holidaymakers are still using a sunbed pre-holiday to prepare their skin for sunbathing. Rather that protecting the skin, sunbeds cause a lot more harm than the sun’s rays. Cancer UK says the risk of malignant melanoma is 59% higher in people who first used a sunbed before the age of 35.

Top Tip: Rather than using a sunbed to prevent burning (which it doesn’t) use a high factor sunscreen and stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm.

4.    Drinking bottled water will prevent stomach upsets

This is a myth because many people will still be struck down with traveller’s diarrhoea, even if they stick to bottled water. It is advisable not to drink the tap water, however if you have ice in your drinks then this is usually made from tap water and can cause the same stomach upset. The bacteria which causes the upset, which our bodies aren’t used to, can also be found in the food.

Top Tip: Come prepared with stomach settling tablets in case a member of the family becomes ill.

If you have any more holiday health related questions, use the Babylon Health app to ask a question direct to a GP.