STAYING HEALTHY ON YOUR HOLIDAY IN SPAIN | With the summer season now in full swing, families from throughout the world will be arriving across Spain nationwide to enjoy plentiful amounts of sun, sand, and sea.
The fabulous weather, the laidback lifestyle, and the healthy Mediterranean climate are just some of the reasons people flock to the Costa Blanca at this time of year.
But it´s important to make sure you take good care of yourself and your family while you’re here, and to understand that fun in the sun comes with it´s own set of challenges.
Here’s our guide to staying healthy on your holiday in Spain, the most common health complaints, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.
Protect your skin this summer: sunburn
The hottest part of the day on the Costa Blanca occurs between 2.00pm and 6.00pm. For pale skinned people, just being in direct sunlight unprotected for 20 minutes is enough to cause serious sunburn – less for a baby or young child.
Always apply a high factor sun cream, and wear a sunhat and sunglasses with a UV protection which cover a large percentage of the face.
Children should always use a factor 50 sun cream, regardless of their skin tone, and if you’re planning a dip in the inviting Mediterranean waters or a swimming pool, use a water resistant sun cream and reapply throughout the day.
Ensure that young childern are as covered as possible when at the beach or water park. Swimwear that is SPF and UV protective is widely available online, and you may want to consider the specialised clothing for adults in your party too.
If you do suffer from sunburn this summer take a cool shower to reduce the redness and burning sensation on the skin, gently pressing the skin dry with a towel.
Sleep uncovered overnight with a fan on to avoid aggitating sore and inflamed skin, and try to avoid using air conditioning. Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating fluids such as caffeine based drinks and alcohol.
Apply Aloe vera gel liberally to affected areas and keep the bottle in the fridge. The gel will effectively cool and rehydrate the skin and calm heat rash, reducing the risk of prickly heat.
You’ll find the gel available at all pharmacies, and the Spanish supermarket Mercadona offers an excellent Aloe vera gel called Atlantia Gel Aloe Vera Puro, available for €5.95.
Stay indoors in a cool environment for 24 hours to help the skin recover and avoid body spray or deodrants. Once the sunburn is no longer sore apply rehydrating body cream overnight to repair the damaged skin.
Stay cool on the beach: heatstroke
Staying healthy on your holiday is important, and heatstroke is not only unpleasant but it can cause death in the very young or elderly in extreme cases.
Wear lightweight and pale coloured clothes, and avoid fabrics which contain a high percentage of polyester or Lycra as they trap the heat close to your skin and stop the skin from breathing.
Drink pleanty of water to stay hydrated, consider eating fruits with a large proportion of water content such as watermelon. Effective hydration is the key to staying healthy on your holiday.
Limit the amount of time spent directly in the sun and always wear a hat which protects both the top of the head and the back of the neck. Placing a wet towel around you neck will help to keep your body temperature low.
Carry a water spray bottle for your face to provide a mist that will cool you down.
Relax and take a siesta during the hottest part of the day and try to plan activities for during the morning or early evening.
If you are unlucky enough to suffer with heatstroke stay inside in a cool dark room and drink plenty of water. Take a cold shower to help reduce your body temperature.
If you feel nauseous or suffer with diarrhoea then consider drinking flat cola as it will help to replace the salts and electrolites that you will lose.
If you are suffering from a headache take some basic analgesia, such as paracetamol, and consider an anti-sickness medication such as Motilium. Local pharmacies will be able to recommend suitable products based on your age and medical requirements.
Young children suffering from severe heatstroke may become floppy and sleepy, and the elderly may become confused and disorientated. In these circumstances you should seek medical advice immediately at one of the emergency medical centres, or call 112 for assistance.
Staying healthy on your holiday: hay fever (allegic rhinitis)
Hay fever is a common ailment in Spain, and you might find you suffer symptoms during your summer holiday even if you don’t normally at home.
The sizzling hot summer temperatures can cause moderate to high pollen levels, and there are types of pollen on the Orihuela Costa which you might not be so accustomed to, such as the pollen produced from the local olive trees at many of the beautiful golf courses here.
You may experience symptoms similar to a common cold, including a runny or blocked nose, frequent sneezing; sore, running or irritated eyes, or a sore throat, mouth, or ears.
Hay fever is likely to leave you feeling lethargic and interrupt your normal sleep pattern. In more severe case you may develop facial pain, loss of smell, headaches and hot sweats.
But staying healthy on your holiday is easy, and if you suffer from hay fever during your holiday consider taking a daily morning dose of non-drowsy antihistamines, like loratadine. If symptoms persist an additional evening dose might help, and you can purchase the medication from any local pharmacy.
If your accommodation offers air conditioning make sure you keep the windows closed when you are indoors, and ensure that the pollen filter in the unit is clean.
If you continue to suffer with hay fever problems or your symptoms worsen use Clarityn eye drops, or a nasal spray such as Beconase that contains a mild steroid to help reduce soreness.
Keeping the bugs at bay: stings and bites
Fortunately, the bugs you’re likely to encounter in Spain aren’t that much different to those you’ll be accustomed to at home, but there are an assortment of insects that can bite and sting, including ants, mosquitoes, wasps and bees.
You will want to enjoy visits to the beach, the wonderful natural parks, and al fresco dining while you’re here in Spain, but there are things you can do to help prevent getting bitten in the first place.
If eating outdoors light a citronella candle to keep flying insects at bay, and never walk around outside with bare feet.
Use an insect repellent, such as a cream or roll-on, or purchase wrist bands which contain citronella to prevent bites.
Spraying repellent around the windows in the bedrooms can help with avoiding mosquito bites overnight. AccuWeather’s handy forecast shows the current level of expected mosquito activity.
If you find ants inside your accommodation, simply use a crawling insect spray around the doors and windows to help prevent them coming in.
Be observant when you’re out and about and keep food covered. If you see wasps or bees near you try to stay calm and move away from them. Most insects only sting you if they feel threatened.
If someone in your party does get bitten or stung, follow our best treatment tips for staying healthy on your holiday in Spain.
Remove any sting as soon as possible by scraping the skin with a finger nail or a plastic payment card. Never attempt to squeeze a sting out of the skin as you may push the sting futher into the tissue.
Clean the affected area with an antiseptic liquid or soap and water, and apply an ice pack to reduce swelling and pain.
Apply hydrocortisone cream or an afterbite stick to the bite or sting, and take basic analgesia, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Do not rub or itch the area as this will increase the histamine production in your body and increase the size and discomfort felt. A regular antihistamine tablet will reduce the size of the bite and the itching.
If you think that you or a family member may be suffer a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylactic shock resulting from a bite or sting, seek emergency medical attention from one of the local medical centres, or call 112.
Stay one step ahead of illness: athlete’s foot
The warm weather in Spain means you’re more likely to suffer from athlete’s foot during your stay. To help prevent the infection putting a dampener on your holiday this summer always wear shoes, flip flops or sandles when walking around the pool area and in the pool shower.
Try to keep your feet as free of sweat as possible by wearing footwear that allows the air to get to the feet. Avoid shoes made from rubber or heavy synthetic materials.
Socks made from natural fabric such as cotton or socks with a special absorbant layer are ideal, and can often be found in sports shops. Don’t be tempted to wear socks again if they get or feel wet.
Wash your feet thoroughly every day with soap and take care to dry them fully, especially between your toes. Try to have more than one pair of footwear to use to so you can allow shoes time to dry and air. An antifungal shoe spray will help to reduce the possibilty of the spores forming.
Do not share towels, socks or footwear with anyone else, and change your towels every two days.
Symptoms to watch out for include itching and burning sensations on the soles of your feet and between your toes, or cracked, flaky and sore skin.
Application of an antifungal cream to the affected areas of the foot is the most effective way to treat an infection, paying special attention to the area between your toes.
Consider using a cooling and refreshing foot cream on your soles and ankles to help reduce swelling and tenderness.
Staying healthy on your holiday: motion sickness
Travel sickness, or motion sickness, can affect people of all ages and it’s never a good start to any holiday.
Those people most likey to be affect are children aged between 2 and 12 years, pregnant women, and those who suffer from migraines.
Travel sickness most often occurs because your eyes are unable to see what your body is feeling, which causes conflicting messages that confuse your brain and in turn make you feel sick, or cause sufferers to be physically sick. Thankfully, staying healthy on your holiday and avoiding motion sickness is quite simple.
To help prevent travel sickness only eat a small meal of plain foods before you start your journey, avoiding fatty, greasy or heavy meals.
If you’re travelling by aircraft limit the amount you move around the cabin and pick a window seat when you book your flights that offers a clear view outside. Music can provide a helpful distraction and don’t try to read anything whilst travelling.
Peppermint or ginger flavours are known to reduce nausea, so always have some suitable sweets with you.
Antiemetic medication such as Stugeron or Joy-rides for children, are known to offer effective relief from motion sickness.
You can also use acupressure wrist bands to help control and prevent travel sickness. They work by interupting the messages sent from the brain to the stomach which cause the feeling of sickness.
This article has been produced for LaZenia.com by a fully qualified medical professional. However, best advice is always to seek assistance from specialist practitioners or your local pharmacy here in Spain.
If you need medication for someone in your party, make sure you inform the pharmacist of any pre-exsiting medical conditions or if any other medication is currently taken, as this may effect the medication that the pharmacist recommends.
In the case of all emergencies, do not hesitate to call 112.
Visiting Spain this summer? Check out our favourite things to do for families with children on the Orihuela Costa during 2018.
Photo credit: LaZenia.com