Holidays are something we all anticipate, and however we choose to spend the time, we do not want anything to ruin it. To help you make the most out of your time off, here are some common problems to look out for:



Sunlight, as beautiful as it may be, can have rigorous effects on the body such as freckles, sunburn or even be the cause of some skin cancers through ultraviolet (UV) light. There may also be symptoms of heatstroke such as dizziness, headache and nausea. In order to minimise this risk and to protect your body, there are various sunscreens available to purchase in the pharmacy. Sunscreen works in two ways, either as UV absorbers which suppress the radiation and stop it reaching the skin or as UV reflectors which disperse the UV light and prevent it from reaching the skin. Sunscreen is available in different sun protection factor (SPF) which is a measurement of the amount of UV protection a product entails. SPF should be used at a minimum of 15 but the higher the better. Even through the use of a high SPF, spending long periods in the sun is not advisable. Mild sunburn can be relieved with calamine or crotamiton (Eurax) and antihistamines can be used to relieve itching. Painkillers may also be used to relieve the pain of sunburn. If affected by sunburn, a person should stay out of the sun and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.


Travel sickness

Travel sickness occurs when mixed messages are sent to the brain from the eyes and balance organs in the brain. When travelling in tight spaces hair cells in the ear perceive movement but the eyes tell the brain that there is no motion. Travel sickness can be worsened by the smell of food or anxiety. The pharmacy sells many products to help the prevention and relief of travel sickness. Some of the products available may cause drowsiness so make sure you inform the pharmacy staff if you are driving or operating heavy machinery. Practical tips include:

  • Look out of car/bus window frequently and focus on distant objects
  • Ensure vehicle is well ventilated
  • Try sleeping
  • Avoid large meals or alcohol before travelling


Bites and stings

Insect bites and stings usually cause itchiness, redness and swelling. Insect bites and stings are not usually a major cause for concern however some people may experience a severe allergic reaction which may be fatal. Warning signs to look out for include swollen eyes and lips, difficulty breathing, large red weals on skin and dizziness. The pharmacy provides a wide range of products to relieve symptoms associated with bites and stings. These include:

  • Topical anaesthetics– reduce irritation and pain by numbing the area
  • Topical corticosteroids– reduce swelling and redness
  • Topical/Oral antihistamines– reduce redness, swelling and itching. These may cause drowsiness too.

Any person who has recently returned from a tropical holiday or sub-saharan countries and is experiencing flu-like symptoms should seek a pharmacist as mosquito bites carry the risk of malaria or other diseases. These symptoms usually appear between 10 days to four weeks after initial bite. However in some cases it can even be a year after a bite.

Image courtesy of seaskylab,