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Just beat the heat

The heat is upon us, and you don’t need to be told that there are humid days ahead. But summer problems can strike at any time, turning an uncomfortable experience into a disagreeable one. Stay safe. Read on.

health and fitness Updated: May 29, 2012 16:18 IST
Kavita Devgan
Kavita Devgan
Hindustan Times

The heat is upon us, and you don’t need to be told that there are humid days ahead. But summer problems can strike at any time, turning an uncomfortable experience into a disagreeable one. Stay safe. Read on.

“Some people have a serious problem with sweat all year round, but most face it during the hot months,” says Dr Nalin Nag, consultant, internal medicine, Inderprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. fight it Shower with an anti-bacterial soap and dry troublesome areas thoroughly. Apply antiperspirant regularly, wear loose clothes and stick to cool cotton and linen fabrics, lightweight denims, chiffon, georgette and voile or cotton and linen blends. Wear lighter coloured clothes as they reflect sunlight, and a hat to help control the temperature of your head and body. Drink lots of water to help your cooling system run better.

Consider losing weight – overweight people sweat more. Exercising boosts your body’s overall temperature control. Finally, yoga or other relaxation techniques help beat stress, also a cause of sweat.

Summers are here and here's how you can protect yourself from the heat.

Body odour
Sweat is virtually odourless, but bacteria use it as a breeding ground. “Body odour is the smell of bacteria multiplying on the surface of your skin,” says Dr Shehla Agarwal, consultant dermatologist, New Delhi. fight it: Dry yourself after a shower and immediately apply antiperspirant. Or try a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water – one teaspoon of peroxide to eight ounces of water. Wipe this on affected areas with a soft cloth. Sweaty gym clothes are often a cause of body odour. Finally, change your diet – fatty foods, oils, or strong-smelling foods can cause body odour.

Foot odour
There are over 2,50,000 sweat glands in our feet. Foot odour begins when moisture lingers on the feet. fight it: Open sandals will keep your feet breathing. Use an antiperspirant for your feet – you can use the same one that you use for the underarms.

Also, wash your feet well while bathing and dry thoroughly. Then dab some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and apply it on the soles of your feet. However, don’t do this if you have cracks or open sores as it will burn. Smelly feet can also cause smelly shoes. So treat your shoes with a deodoriser. A home remedy for stinky feet involves steeping a pot of tea for 5-10 minutes, letting it cool and soaking your feet in it for 10 minutes. The tannic acid in tea helps to reduce foot odour. Soap and water will remove the tea stains on your feet. Do this daily.

Insect stings
“The severity of an insect sting reaction varies,” says Dr Nag. “There are three types of reactions – normal, localised and allergic. A normal reaction will result in pain, swelling and redness around the site. A large local reaction will result in swelling that extends beyond the sting site; the most serious reaction to an insect sting is an allergic one – this needs immediate attention.” fight it: Stay away from flowers, stay indoors at dawn and dusk when pests are most active, always cover up when outside, and avoid perfumes, scented lotions or hair products, or other smells that may attract insects. Also, keep a bug repellent handy.

If you’re bitten or stung, don’t scratch as it leads to infection. Aspirin, antihistamines, calamine lotion and application of an icepack all help. Try to remove the stinger as quickly as possible. But if the area stays swollen and symptoms include vomiting, shortness of breath and trouble breathing, see a doctor immediately.

Dehydration means that your body doesn’t have enough water in it to keep it working right. “Dry lips and tongue, headache, extreme fatigue, nausea and muscle cramps are telltale signs of dehydration,” states Dr Nag. “Another sign is not peeing as often as you usually do. Urine should be a pale yellow colour. Dark or strong-smelling pee can be a sign of dehydration. Fatigue is another sign.”

Even mild dehydration – as little as a one to two per cent loss of your body weight – can sap your energy. Says Dr Nag, “That’s because excess sweat leads to loss of not just water but salts too. Muscles need a good electrolyte-water balance, so even mild dehydration makes us feel drained of energy.” fight it: Your thirst may not keep up with your need for fluids, so play safe by drinking as much water, iced herbal tea and juice as you can. Drink water before, during, and after you go out and before you eat or drink anything else in the morning. Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere and drink lots of non-caffeinated fluids such as tender coconut water, fresh lime water, lassi, buttermilk, milkshakes, jal jeera and aam panna. Alcohol and beverages like tea, coffee and soft drinks cause you to lose fluid rather than retain it.

Heat stroke (or sunstroke) can occur when not enough sweat is produced to keep the body cool. “Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, weak pulse and disorientation,” says Dr Nag. fight it: Heat stroke can be managed, and heat exhaustion prevented, by seeking a cool, shaded place, drinking lots of fluids and sponging the body with water, if necessary. Cramps indicate a deficiency of electrolytes, so take in electrolytes through fruit or sports drinks. Replace lost sodium through ORS (a pinch of salt, a few drops of lemon juice and a spoon of sugar added to a glass of water) and do not massage the cramped muscle. Just support the limb.

If this doesn’t help, the sunstroke could develop into heat stroke. Symptoms include a steep rise in body temperature, hot, dry skin, lack of sweating, very fast pulse and serious disorientation. Get a doctor at once and meanwhile cool the patient by immersing her or him in a tub of cool water, or placing her or him under a cool shower. Do this continuously till the body temperature drops.

Protect yourself: Use antiperspirant, wear clothes in light shades, wear sunglasses

Eye troubles
The ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun can trigger a host of ophthalmic maladies including dry, itching eyes, viral conjunctivitis and burning and eye discharge. fight it: Wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection.

Skin troubles solved
Pigmentation: Summer can aggravate pigmentation.
What to do: Try this home remedy: Stir the juice of half a lemon into one cup of plain yoghurt. Keep in the fridge and apply like a cream before going to bed. You can even apply a thin coat of moisturiser over it after five minutes.

Sunburn: This leaves the skin red and painful. In severe cases, the skin may form blisters and the person may suffer from swelling, fever and chills.
What to do: First, avoid repeated sun exposure. Next, apply cold compresses or immerse the area in cool water, apply moisturising lotion and leave the blisters alone – don’t break them.

Acne: Acne is very common in summer, as heavy sweating leads to the swelling of the skin’s keratin protein, which in turn blocks the pores.
What to do: The key to avoid aggravation lies in repeated cleansing. Cleanse your face 6-7 times a day, and drink lots of water. Exfoliate regularly. Finally, stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.

Prickly heat
Excessive perspiration damages cells on the skin’s surface, trapping sweat beneath the skin, where it causes bumps known as prickly heat.
What to do: Keep the area cool and dry. Don’t use antiperspirant, lotion, insect repellent or powder. Apply calamine lotion or prickly heat powder to relieve itching.

Info provided by Dr Shehla Agarwal, consultant dermatologist, New Delhi; Dr Seema Malik, cosmetologist and MD Eleganza Rejuvenation Clinic, New Delhi

- From HT Brunch, May 22

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First Published: May 20, 2011 11:55 IST