Debunking summer health myths

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We’ve all heard an old wives tale once or twice, but what summer advice is truth and what’s just made up?

Dr. Sandra Carnahan with Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine sat down with WWAY’s Donna Gregory on Good Evening Wilmington to debunk some summer health myths.

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1.HAVING A BASE TAN HELPS PROTECT US FROM GETTING A SUNBURN

If you’d normally burn after being out in the sun for 20min, a base tan may mean you can be in the sun for up to 80min without burning. This is equal to a sunscreen with a SPF of 3. Since most sunscreens have SPF 15 at least, that would be a much more effective option than relying on a base tan to protect you from burning

2. A SUNSCREEN WITH SPF 50 IS BETTER THAN SPF 30



A sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks 97% of UV rays and SPF 50 blocks 98%. We do not get much benefit when you start to choose sunscreens over SPF 30. So choose a sunscreen that you put on about half an hour before sun exposure and reapply every two hours.

3. SUNSCREEN IS ABSORBED INTO THE BODY AT TOXIC LEVELS

New research is showing that certain ingredients in sunscreen are being absorbed into the body. It’s unclear what sort of long term health issues they can cause since they haven’t been adequately studied yet. Dermatologist are recommending to swap chemical sunscreens for mineral based products, which means choosing sunscreens which have zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

4. URINE HELPS WITH JELLYFISH STINGS

Urine causes a jellyfish sting to burn more. Best thing to do is get out of the water and wash the area with salt water. Remove the tentacles but avoid vigorously rubbing the area because this can release more toxin into the skin. Treat the pain by immersing the area in hot water. The good news is that we’re unlikely to come across this problem. The most common jellyfish in the area is the cannonball jellyfish which rarely stings humans and is the least venomous. You’ll recognize them as the ones that are washed up on the shore without tentacles.

5. HEAT STROKE ONLY HAPPENS TO THE VERY YOUNG, AND THE VERY OLD

Heat exhaustion can happen to anyone and presents with heavy sweating as the body is overheating. Signs of this are cold and clammy skin, feeling faint or dizzy, and possible nausea and vomiting. This will happen in hot and humid weather or when someone is dehydrated. Experiencing an early heat wave can do this because the body hasn’t had a chance to get used to the higher temperatures yet. Here are some steps you can take to prevent this: wear loose, lightweight clothing, use sunscreen, stay hydrated, avoid being out in hottest part of the day. If this goes untreated it can develop into heat stroke which can be life threatening.

6. GREEN SPACE IS THE BEST PLACE TO BE FOR YOUR BRAIN HEALTH

Research has showed that being at the beach has a greater positive effect on people than green space (parks, trees, lawns). People who live on the coast report better physical and mental health than those who don’t. Staring at the ocean changes our brain waves and puts us into a mild meditative state. The color blue has been found to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. That consistent ebbing and flowing you hear de-stimulates the brain, activating the parasympathetic system which allows you to rest and unwind. Even the sensation of putting the toes in the sand causes people to relax. Being at the ocean is associated with happy memories and feeling relaxed, calm and rested.