Your Holidays

having a good time whilst protecting yourself too

Have a great time but protect yourself too

We all love our holidays and we wish you all the best for your holiday.   Health wise - there are things you need to think about in advance too.   We don't want to put a downer on things but simply helping you to have a fabulous worry-free time. Please read on... we think you''ll find this page very interesting.

Travel injections

For some holiday destinations, you need to get certain injections to protect you against specific diseases that are more common in those areas than they are over here.    For example, traveling to certain parts of India and Pakistan will require you to have an injection to protect you against Typhoid, all the Hepatitis diseases and Rabies.   You may even need a tetanus booster.

Where can I get a jab?

Travel Vaccinations – we currently do not provide a service for this.  However, many local pharmacists do - including Ashcroft Pharmacy (click here).  Please DO NOT leave it until the last minute because some injections needs to be given in advance of you leaving the UK because they take time to work.  So, please book AT LEAST 8 WEEKS IN ADVANCE of your departure date.  The pharmacy will work out what immunisations you require.   This information is constantly changing and they use a system which is constantly updated with the latest information.

Is there a fee involved?

Yes, you will incur a charge for these immunisations.   This is because it is not funded on the NHS - the NHS believes that if you can afford to go abroad, you should be able to afford the vaccinations (which is a fair point to be honest).   The charges are very reasonable and will not break your bank!   But please don't let this put you off.  Your health is important and the cost of the vaccines is little compared to the cost of a holiday ruined by some serious illness.   If you go abroad without vaccinations, you are putting yourself and/or others at serious risk of infections from abroad – some of which can be deadly or cause permanent damage. Is it worth taking that risk for the sake of a few pounds?

Protection against the Sun - creams and lotions

Why we worry about exposure to sun

The reason why doctors get so worried about the sun is because its UV rays can cause moles to become cancerous.  This risk is even higher if you get sunburn.  All people, regardless of skin colour are at risk of sunburn and skin cancer.   People with blonde hair and white skin are the most at risk.   But don't think for one second that if you are of brown or dark brown complexion that you are risk free.     Repeated intense sun exposure can also age the skin very quickly - did you know that 80% of the wrinkles, brown spots and discolouration of your skin is due to the sun.   And it can trigger cataracts.

Things you can do to protect yourself

  • Use sunscreen cream of factor 30 - and put it on generously 30 minutes BEFORE you go out (it takes a while for the skin cream to work).  Keep reapplying it every 2 hours.  Reapply after coming out of the sea or the swimming pool.
  • Don't stay out in the sun all day long - get into the shade too.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face.
  • Get some sunscreen lip balm to protect the lips.
  • Get some CE certified wrap around sunglasses to protect your eyes and the skin around them - make sure they filter both UVA and UVB.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Protect your kids too.

In summary

The sun is a good thing for our planet - it would die with out it.   But like all things in life - too much can be a bad thing for each of us on an individual level.  Sunlight tends to improve our general well-being and make us happier. It does this by causing us to produce more of a "happy hormone" called serotonin. Physical activities and exercise outdoors are good for us, and we need to balance that against our wish to avoid skin damage and skin cancer. The way to balance the good and bad effects of the sun is to enjoy the sun safely. This means using all the tips above. So enjoy being out in the sun when it is not so strong. Have short times out in the sun, rather than spending a long time exposed to it, especially in the hotter times of the day and year. When you have to be out in the middle of the day, use protection such as sun creams, hats, clothing and shade. If you want a tanned skin, consider a fake tan cream. Protecting your skin in this way will keep it young-looking and healthy. Enjoy the sunshine, but keep yourself safe.

Spotting a Melanoma (a serious type of skin cancer)

melanoma 2a
melanoma 3

These two pictures are of the same mole.   This mole is a nasty melanoma.  On the left is the mole in its natural state.  On the right, I have tried to highlight what to look out for.   Of course, follow the ABCDE principles below.  In this picture, I've focused on ABC in this picture (but D and E are important too):

  • the mole is ASSYMETRICAL
  • the mole has an irregular BORDER - which looks higgledy piggledy
  • the mole has more than one COLOUR in it - it is not a uniform shade of brown - but instead has a mixture of different shades of brown and in this particular example, black too!  
  • Any mole of DIAMETER more than 7mm should be checked out by a doctor.  
  • Also, if you notice any mole EVOLVING or changing from before - again get it checked by a doctor as soon as possible.

This is a photograph of the same person - the picture in colour is in normal light and the second one has been taken under ultraviolet photography.   Ultraviolet photography helps to show up skin damage.  

Now this is the interesting bit.  Half of his face has got sunscreen on it and the other half hasn't.  Can you see the skin damage to the unprotected side?  It's shocking isn't it!

In fact, the next time you are on holiday or even just somewhere sunny in the UK (does it get sunny in the UK?) - put some sun glasses on.    Look at different people and you will notice people whose skin are particularly 'red looking' and therefore burning in the sun.   Look at those same people with the sunglasses off - notice how to the naked eye - they just don't look out of the ordinary!

The sun is silent and invisible.  A bit of it is good for you but too much is really bad - just like most things in life.

1280px-UV_and_Vis_Sunscreen

Drink a bottle of water and keep hydrated

Ice_Mountain_jkDrinking water is an important part of staying healthy, especially when it's hot outside. When it's hot, you sweat!  When you're sweating, you lose water that your body needs to work properly. And if you're walking a fair distance, running, exercising, or playing a sport in the sun, you lose even more water, because you sweat that much more.

So drink up and don't wait until you're thirsty — drinking before you feel thirsty helps keep the water level in your body from dropping too low (dehydration) when it's hot or you're sweating a lot with exercise. If you forget and suddenly feel thirsty, start drinking then.

Try to drink about FIVE  little 500ml bottles of water a day (the same size as handheld Coke or Pepsi bottles).   And if you're abroad in a country where the water is a bit risky (like India) - choose bottled water.

Swimming in the sea

Did you know that one of the biggest causes of death whilst abroad on holiday is drowning!  Yes, people don't realise it.   For example, 160 people drown each year on the UK coasts - never mind abroad!!!   Here's another fact for you - 1 in 5 Britons know someone who has got into difficulty whilst swimming on holiday.

Even if you are a good swimmer - you can, for instance, get leg cramps at any moment.    Or you might underestimate how strong the tides andwaves are - holiday makers swim away from the beach for a bit and then find it difficult to swim back as the waves push them back out again!  TIDES ARE SO UNPREDICTABLE.  Also, people overestimate their swimming ability or fitness - 40% of holiday-makers haven't swum at all in the last year and only 25% swim regularly!   So it seems crazy that we'd take that risk and venture out far into open water.   Even strong swimmers underestimate how much more challenging swimming in open water can be.

So please, take care.   Tell friends or family members to keep an eye out for you if you plan to go in the sea.   Stay close to and try and swim parallel to the the coast line.  Follow the tips below.

  1. Children in and around water must be kept under constant supervision at all times. Unfortunately accidents often occur when parents are distracted.  We recommend that parents enjoy the water with their children rather than letting them play alone.  Supervision is the key thing to preventing serious accidents.
  2. Read and follow the pool or beach safety information and check if lifeguards are present.
  3. Be aware of hazards and surroundings, for example locating the deep and shallow ends in a pool, or rocks and strong currents in the sea.  In fact, do not swim near or dive from rocks, piers, breakwater and coral
  4. Inflatable dinghies or lilos are a well-known hazard – there have been drownings as people on inflatables are blown out to sea and get into trouble. Do not use them in open water. Use them in sheltered and confined spaces, such as rock pools

If you are aged 18-25, please take note.  People in this age range take the most risks and many of the deaths abroad happen to this group.

  1. Know your own ability, be aware of tiredness and dehydration in the heat.
  2. Don’t swim when you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  3. Beware of hazards and swimming conditions, particularly in the sea.
  4. Buddy-up – look out for your mates.
  5. Remember swimming in open water is different to a swimming pool – if you haven’t swum for six months, open water swimming in cold deep water will be difficult.
  6. The Royal Lifesaving Society UK offers advice and information on its website, as well as information on its lifesaving awards for all ages. advise people to swim parallel to the beach so you can stand up if you need to.

  The Royal Lifesaving Society UK offers advice and information on its website, as well as information on its lifesaving awards for all ages.

And remember to stay SAFE with the RLSS UK’s code:

  • Spot – spot the dangers
  • Advice – follow safety signs and advice
  • Friend – stay close to a friend or family member
  • Emergency – shout for help and call 999 or 112

And one last thing.... If you get stuck in quicksand or mud do not stand up. Lie down, spread your weight, shout for help and move slowly in a breaststroke action towards the shore.

Watch out for heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Heat exhaustion

This happens when the temperature inside the body rises to up to 40°C.  Our normal body temperature is about 37°C.   These few extra degrees can be deadly!   Heat exhaustion can come on suddenly. A person may just collapse when playing soccer or tennis, for example. Or it might make you feel sick, have headaches, sweat excessively and feel faint.  It can leave someone feeling really tired for days after it happens.  The body is losing water and becoming dehydrated. If untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke which can be serious.  Children: kids get heat exhaustion too.  A kid with heat exhaustion might feel overheated, tired and weak.

The treatment for heat exhaustion is to move swiftly to a cool place, out of direct sunlight, and to drink plenty of cool fluids. Recovery should happen quickly, usually within 30 minutes, and there are no long-term complications. If you have heat exhaustion, or are looking after someone with heat exhaustion, and improvement is not occurring, it is important to seek urgent medical advice.

Heatstroke (also called Sunstroke) - see a doctor urgently!

Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises above 40°C. It is serious and considered a medical emergency.  The cells in the body begin to break down, important bodily functions stop working, internal organs can fail (such as the brain) and, in extreme cases, death can occur.

The person might become sick (vomiting), confused, uncoordinated, have fast shallow breathing (hyperventilation) and lose consciousness.  Heatstroke is a medical emergency and you should summon immediate medical help (call 999/112/911 for an ambulance - depending which country you are in).  Treatment for heatstroke in a hospital involves cooling the body to lower the core temperature, and using an intravenous drip to replace the fluids lost.

Drinking responsibly (alcohol) & be careful of drugs

When you are drunk or under the influence of drugs, you will take risks that you would not ordinarily have done without them.    A lot of deaths abroad happen because of this.      People will be drunk or drugged up and feel so happy that they do dangerous things - like go for a swim, climb buildings and statues and so on.     And in the case of drugs - don't forget that you don't know what you are getting - often there are other deadly chemicals in there.  In the past, this surgery has lost patients to drowning, falling off balconies, statues and buildings, coming back with brain damage because of head injuries and so on.

Please stay safe.   Those in the age range 18-25 years, please take these words of advice on board - most of those who die are in your age range.    You go on holiday to have a good time, not to come back in a body bag and ruin the lives of those closest to you.   Think of the effect on those back in the UK - how would you feel by a devastated mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend or best mate?

Please read the health information on these pages.  We don't mean to put a downer on your holiday before you leave.  We simply want you to have lots of fun, but doing so safely.