Just Keep It Cool; When the Heat Is on, It's Important to Make Sure You Keep Your Cool. Don't Let the Sun Make You Forget about Taking Good Care of All Aspects of Your Health

Article excerpt

Let's face it. Scots, on the whole, have problems in the sun. A quick trawl round the Young Scot office confirmed how badly we treat our bodies.

"I couldn't carry my rucksack `cos my shoulders were so burnt."

"I spent three days of my holiday in the bog."

"They made me lie down, covered with yoghurt, in a dark room . . ."

"Sunstroke? I thought I was dying!"

Yet, looking back, holidays and good weather times are always wonderful.

Apparently minor irritations like large areas of burnt body and projectile vomiting fade into insignificance.

Selective memory is one of the problems.

No, red, shiny, sunburnt body parts are not attractive.

Neither is the peeling stage, although some strange people seem to derive a disturbing satisfaction from pulling off bits of their own skin. Not pretty.

And suffering from sunstroke, an upset stomach, or trotty-botty can put paid to days of a well-earned and expensive holiday.

SKIN STUFF

Not only is sunburn horrible at the time for both sufferer and potential dancing partners, but damaging your skin this way can be a real danger in the long term as it leads to skin cancer.

Today, skin cancer is the fastest rising cancer in Scotland, and one of the main reasons for this is more people have more time to spend in the sun. In 1995 there were almost 5900 new cases of skin cancer in Scotland - but four out of five of these could have been prevented.

And it's not just people who go on foreign holidays who are at risk. Of all the Scots with skin cancer, 34 per cent had never been outside the UK.

So, if you're out in the Scottish sun for any length of time take care too. And that's not just sunbathers. If you work outside or do outside activities you'll need to protect your skin.

For example, most skiers have got it sussed that you need a high protection factor cream on you on the slopes due to the sun reflecting off the snow - even when it's absolutely baltic!

If you have naturally brown or black skin you are less at risk, but everyone needs to take care.

It is also unfortunately the case that many Scots have the naturally fair skin most liable to burn, and develop skin cancer.

(One of the blokes in the Young Scot office is so white that he swears he once got moonburn ...)

And speaking of blokes, it is not `girly' to wear suncream - you smell better on the beach and look better at nights!

It makes sense to give yourself a regular skin check (it's even more fun of you get someone else to do it), looking for any changes or irregularities, especially in the mole department. If you think something might be wrong get it looked at by your GP quickly.

TUMS `N' BUMS

Although they say you learn most about a new culture by examining the plumbing, nothing ruins a holiday quite like spending it in the toilet.

Diarrhoea and sickness abroad are very common in the delicate Scottish stomach. Some bugs clear up of their own accord, but get down to the chemists for some advice on what to take just in case. Ways to avoid that crouching position include:

Unless you're sure of the local water supply, only drink bottled water.That means cleaning your teeth with bottled water too.

Eat fresh cooked food from a reputable source. Street stalls may look appealing when you're starving, but you may suffer for it later.

Only eat raw fruit or veg if you can peel it.

Don't take ice in drinks.

Be wary of shellfish and dairy products.

Make sure you get the necessary jags before you go. Ask your doctor for advice.

Take out insurance (see page 6 of this magazine for a great offer). OK, it'll cost more for your holiday, but if things do go wrong you'll bless every pound spent. …