Sun sense: Holiday health essentials

Sun sense

Holidays can be a minefield when it comes to health concerns, whether it's sun, insect bites, allergies or dehydration. But with a well-stocked first aid kit you can arm yourself to combat whatever your trip throws at you and get back to enjoying your holiday. Dr Catherine Hood tells us what you should be stocking for summertime safety.

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What are the skincare packing essentials?

The most important skincare product to take is a good quality suntan lotion if you're heading to the sunshine. Children and babies have very sensitive skin which can burn easily, even if it's cloudy. Use a good quality suntan lotion that offers both UVA and UVB protection. Apply it liberally and regularly. Make sure it's waterproof if your children are swimming. And remember, suntan lotion does have a shelf life so don't rely on lotion that's been sitting in a cupboard for several years.

But what if a child won't keep their sunhat on?

Persevere and make it fun! Choose a hat that has bright colours or take them shopping to choose their own hat, make a game out of keeping the hat on and wear one yourself to encourage them to do the same. If this fails then being firm and consistent is the best way forward; no hat, no outside play, they will soon learn.

What are the big issues you should be aware of when taking a baby abroad?

Beware of bugs and bites. Some children react badly to bites so make sure you have some antihistamine cream, child-friendly insect repellant and some liquid painkiller such as paracetamol or Nurofen with a syringe or dosed medicine dispenser like the one in the Dentinox range to make sure you give the correct dose.

If you're bottle-feeding your baby consider taking enough formula with you in case it's not easy to buy in the shops. Remember bottles and sterilizing equipment as it may not be available at your hotel or destination.

Dehydration can be a real problem in the sun so make sure your baby or children have ready access to clean drinking water at all times. Never leave them for a long time in a hot location without shade and water.

It's also a good idea to take all the nappies you're going to need and remember swim nappies too. Finally, a plug adaptor, nightlight and a baby monitor are all good ideas for those nighttime feeds.

What about allergies?

There is no particular diet that will help but taking a few precautions is a good idea. Make sure you wash food well in bottled water or cooled boiled water rather than using water from the tap unless you know it's safe.

If you know your child has a particular allergy make sure you know the name of that particular food in the language of the country you are going to. Check food labels carefully to ensure that product isn't in the preparation. If you know your child is very allergic to a particular food e.g. peanuts then talk to your doctor about taking an adrenaline pen away with you in case of a severe reaction.

What are the allergy warning symptoms to look out for?

Mild allergies may just produce an itchy raised rash on the skin or a runny or blocked nose. Nasal symptoms can be relieved by putting saline drops such as the Snufflebabe Nasal Drops or Spray into the nostrils. Snufflebabe Vapour Rub can then help relieve symptoms and help breathing at night.

If your child develops severe diarrhoea or vomiting, develops a temperature or becomes swollen around the mouth or face and is struggling to breathe they may be having a severe allergic reaction and you need to seek immediate medical help.

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